Fewer Than Half Of American Workers Participate In Savings Plans

December 13, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Less than half of American workers own a retirement savings plan, according the Congressional Research Services' Retirement Savings and Household Wealth in 2000: Analysis of Census Bureau Data.

The survey found 113 million people, between the ages of 25 and 64, worked for pay in 2000, with 64% working for an employer that sponsored a retirement plan.   Of this total, 11% report their employers offered retirement savings, but they were not included in those plans.

The remaining 36% worked for an employer that did not offer a retirement plan.

The 72 million workers that had a retirement plan offered to them, only 42% owned one or more retirement accounts, including IRAs, Keogh accounts, 401(k) and other employee-sponsored savings plans:

  • 31% owned a 401(k)
  • 9% owned an IRA or Keogh plan (predominately IRAs)
  • 8% owned both an IRA/Keogh and a 401(k)

Among all workers owning a retirement savings plan in 2000, the report found the mean value to be $45,960.   The median value of all these accounts was $18,000.

Combining all household retirement accounts revealed the mean value was $71,040 and the median value was $31,000.  

However, an estimated 7 million workers between the ages of 55 and 64, representing 50% of all workers in this age category, owned at least one retirement account in 2000.   The mean value of these workers’ accounts was $71,910, and the median value was $33,000. 

Combined household retirement accounts showed the mean value was $107,040, and the median value was $56,000.