Americans Investing More in Retirement

July 18, 2011 ( - A new study from The Hartford found increased participation among many Americans in 401(k)s and other defined contribution (DC) plans.  

According to a press release, participation in 401(k)s and other DC plans rose to 76% in 2011, up from 71% in 2010 and only 63% in 2009. Men showed the highest participation rates (81%), followed by boomers (79%) and Gen Xers (77%). Participation among women held steady, with seven in ten reporting making contributions to their employer’s retirement plan. Among younger workers, ages 19–31, however, there was slight (2%) decline in overall participation.  

Most Americans showed increased optimism in their financial futures, and more than one-third (34%) reported feeling “extremely” or “very” confident that they would see improvement in the next twelve months. Among those who did expect such positive changes, 53% said reducing debt and increasing savings were part of their financial goals, and 42% claimed securing their financial future was their primary goal.  

“Americans are known for their optimism and that is being reflected in their increasing participation in retirement plans, even as the economy continues to struggle,” said E. Thomas Foster Jr., vice president for The Hartford’s Retirement Plans Group, in the announcement. 

Other key findings of the study include:  

  • 26% of respondents claim they “live comfortably” in 2011, up from 19% last year; 
  • 48% reported meeting their expenses “with a little left over for extras.” 


“More people say they are saving for retirement and focusing on reaching their retirement savings goals,” Foster added. “It’s a promising time for employers and financial advisers to promote the importance of retirement savings.” 

The study polled 1,000 workers ages 18–65 who reported having a minimum household income of $25,000. 


-Sara Kelly