With so many surveys reiterating Americans' lack of preparedness for retirement, it's certainly good news that assets in 401(k) plans are finally growing again. However, that's primarily because the stock market performed so well in 2003, not because employers or investors are committing more money.
In 2003, 401(k) assets rose 22% to $1.8 trillion, reversing a three-year decline, according to a Marketplace Update report from the Society of Professional Administrators and Recordkeepers (SPARK) of Simsbury, Conn. But the number of plans and workers invested in those plans grew only slightly. In 2003, there were 395,000 plans covering some 45 million workers, compared with 382,000 plans and 40 million participants the year before.