Fifty-five percent of 401(k) participants say they would not be saving for retirement if it were not for their workplace savings plan, Fidelity Investments found in a survey of 1,000 participants and retirees. Additionally, 19% say they have no retirement savings outside of their 401(k) plan.
“This research helps us better understand how Americans use their 401(k)s to help achieve their long-term retirement savings goals,” said James M. MacDonald, president of workplace investing at Fidelity. “It also provides an interesting snapshot of the actions of workplace plan participants in an uncertain economic climate and highlights the importance of Fidelity’s wide array of financial education offerings, from online tools to one-on-one guidance.”
Asked about the main reasons they participate in the plan, 92% said it is important not to miss out on company matches and 90% said the plans are a good tax-deferred way to save.
However, the economy is weighing heavily on the minds of many participants, with 54% saying they would contribute more to their 401(k) if they could.
In the first quarter, 10% of the plan participants that Fidelity serves increased their contribution rate—the largest percentage to do so since Fidelity began tracking the contribution rate in 2006. The survey also found that 53% have increased their contribution rate in the past five years, despite the economy’s decline.
Asked why they had increased their contributions, 23% said to take full advantage of employer matching dollars, and 38% said they had received a raise or had extra money available.
Only 23% said they have ever decreased their contribution rate. Among those who had decreased contributions, 46% said they needed the extra money, and 9% said it was due to the elimination of a company match. Among these participants who have decreased their contribution rates, 40% admitted they have already or will regret that decision.
As far as 401(k) loans are concerned, 23% have taken a loan, with a majority indicating it was due to an unforeseen emergency. However, 29% said they would not take another loan against their 401(k) in the future.
Among those participating in their 401(k), 37% also have an IRA, 33% have an additional employer-sponsored pension plan, 28% have savings in bank accounts, and 28% have investments in stocks or bonds. Among those not yet retired but 55 or older, 44% have an IRA.