Nearly Six in 10 Private Employees had 2003 Retirement Plan Access

May 14, 2004 ( - More than half (57%) of U.S. private-sector workers had access to a retirement plan in 2003, according to government data.

Data from the National Compensation Survey: Employer Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2003, taken by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), showed that 51% of private-sector employees had access to a defined contribution plan while 20% could make use of a defined benefit pension program (Many firms offered both types).

Not surprisingly, better paying full-time jobs offered more retirement plan access than other types of positions, according to the BLS data. While 67% of white-collar employees got retirement benefits, 59% of those in blue-collar positions and a comparatively scant 28% of service workers had the same access. The spread between DB and DC plan offerings was greatest for white collar jobs: 62% had DC access while 23% could use a DB program.

Among workers earning an average hourly wage of $15 or higher, 76% had retirement benefit access while only 45% of those making less than that did, the data showed.

Meanwhile, 67% of full-time private-sector workers got retirement benefits and 24% of their part-time counterparts did. Some 86% of union members had retirement benefits, while 54% of non-union workers did. Interestingly, among union workers, 74% had DB access while 45% could invest in a DC plan, BLS said.

Among the nation’s geographic areas, workers in the East North Central part of the country had the highest retirement plan access (64%) while those in New England and the Mountain states were tied for the bottom at 51%.

When it came to providing health-care benefits to private-sector employees, the BLS data showed the following access levels:

  • medical care – 60%
  • dental care – 40%
  • vision care – 25%.

Health coverage was fairly widespread with 65% of white-collar and 64% of blue-collar workers able to make sure of a medical plan offering. Only 38% of service workers had that coverage.

Full-time workers beat out their part-time counterparts for medical plan coverage 73% to 17% while 67% of union members had such plans versus 59% of non-union employees. Those making an average hourly wage of $15 or more likewise beat out their lesser-paid compatriots 74% to 51% in medical plan availability.

Among the nation’s geographic areas, workers in the East South Central led the way in medical plan coverage (72%) while the West North Central area lagged the pack with a 54% coverage rate.

The BLS report is at .