Despite the plummeting economy, most 401(k) participants are staying calm and behaving normally, according to 2008 year-end data from the Investment Company Institute.

"These tough economic times are impacting all forms of retirement savings, including 401(k) accounts," said ICI President and CEO Paul Schott Stevens. "Nonetheless, the latest survey data indicate that 401(k) participant activity through the end of 2008 was in line with historical norms. Working Americans continue to demonstrate their commitment to the 401(k) system."

Stevens is scheduled to testify March 10 before the Senate Banking Committee.

The ICI's survey found that in all of 2008, just 3.7% of defined contribution plan participants stopped contributing to their accounts, up from 3% as of October 2008.

The survey noted that all its numbers took a turn for the worse after October, but didn't say whether it was because of the significant drop in equities after October or if participants stopped contributing because they reached their contribution limits.

As of December 2008, nearly 14.4% changed the asset allocation of their account balance and 12.4% changed the asset allocation of their contributions. In October, only 13.5% had changed their account balances and 9.1% had changed their contribution mix.

Approximately 15.3% of participants had outstanding 401(k) loans at year-end, which is about average for the past 12 years, the survey said.

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