Majority in Poll Kept Hands off 401(k) in Downturn

October 2, 2009 ( - Despite the ongoing economic turmoil, a poll taken for National Payroll Week found that the majority of those polled have not disturbed their 401(k) deferrals since September 2008.

The American Payroll Association survey found that 60.9% of respondents did not make 401(k) deferral changes since September 2008, while 19.4% cut back their savings and 19.3% boosted their deferrals, according to survey data.

Some 85% of those making 401(k) changes raised their deferrals by 5% or less, while another 11.2% increased it between 6% and 10%. Of those lowering their deferrals, 82.3% dropped the figure by 5% or below and 11.5% between 6% and 10%.

The poll found deferrals of 11% to 15% (8.5%), 6% to 10% (39%) and 1% to 5% (47%). Among respondents whose employers offer a 401(K) or other defined contribution plan, 81.8% participate.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents’ employers offer a 401(k) (or other DC plan) and 25% offer a defined benefit program.

Survey results also included:

  • 55.1% of respondents would opt for higher wages over health benefits; and
  • 70% of respondents said it would be very or somewhat difficult to meet current financial obligations if a paycheck were to be delayed a week.

The survey results are available here .