Seven in 10 DC-Area Employers Offer 401(k) Plans

June 30, 2008 ( - Employers in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area reported in a survey that defined contribution programs represent the majority of retirement programs offered by area organizations.

According to a news release, 401(k) plans are made available by 69% of employers, 403 (b) plans are provided by 31% of all employers, and defined benefits programs are offered by 19% of employers in that area.

Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area employers also indicated that their average total cost of benefits as a percentage of payroll declined for the second straight year. The average benefit rate for government contractors remained constant for 2007 to 2008, but all other industries and non-profit organizations reported a decline in percentage of benefits provided in total compensation packages.

“The survey data indicates some interesting trends, stated George Lane, Senior Vice President, Marsh Inc., who chairs the Compensation Survey Committee for The Human Resources Association of the National Capital Area (HRA-NCA), in the news release . Employers are cutting back benefits or sharing price increases in health care benefits with employees to control health care costs. The increase in the cost of prescription drug plans seems to be moderating and more employers are developing paid time off programs (PTO) instead of defined categories of leave such as annual leave, sick leave, etc.

According to a survey report, health plan costs saw average hikes of 5% during 2007, lower than between 2006 and 2007. A number of area employers changed their plans by reducing benefits to eliminate an increase in their costs. As a result, the actual average increase in amounts paid by employers after plan changes was 2.4%.

One of the significant changes in leave policies has been the increases in percentage of employers combining various types of leave into paid time off (PTO) programs. PTO programs increased from 36% of employers to 42% from 2007 to 2008.

Also, the number of Washington-Baltimore area employers offering domestic partner benefits increased from 43% to 48% in the last year.

The HRA-NCA 2008 Benefits Survey is available for sale from $235-$500 depending on whether the employer has participated in the survey and the size of the firm. The survey was conducted from March to May of 2008, and 278 organizations responded .

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