401(k) Fact Sheet

Findings from the 1996 Retirement Confidence Survey

  • Three-quarters of eligible workers are contributing to a 401(k)-like plan, but less than half of those participating are contributing the maximum amount allowed. Twenty percent of participants are contributing the maximum amount that their employer will match and 16 percent are contributing the amount they have determined that they should contribute.
  • When making contribution and investment decisions, 30 percent of plan participants found plan and/or employer provided information very helpful and 45 percent found it somewhat helpful. By comparison, thirty-one percent found their spouse to be very helpful and 27 percent somewhat helpful. One-half of participants did not consult a financial professional, but over one-half of those who did found them to be very helpful. Only 11 percent found friends or co-workers to be very helpful, but almost one-half found them to be somewhat helpful.
  • Over 70 percent of plan participants received educational material from the plan over the past 12 months and over 80 percent of these utilized that material. Estimating the amount needed to be saved for a comfortable retirement lifestyle was the least often covered topic at 66 percent. A description of available investment options was most common at 98 percent.
  • One-quarter of workers eligible to participate in a 401(k)-like plan do not contribute and one-third of these say that the major reason is that they cannot afford to save. Twelve percent said they were saving for a house and did not want to divert saving and 11 percent said they were saving for their children's education and did not want to divert money from that.