Seventy-five percent of U.S. companies that suspended their 401(k) matching contributions between January 2008 and January 2010 have restored the retirement savings perk in the past year, according to an analysis by professional services firm Towers Watson.

The study, which reviewed the matching participation rate of 260 companies, found that 74% of those that reinstated their programs returned their matching contribution to the level they maintained before pulling the plug while 23% are now matching at a lower rate.

Only 3% increased their matching contributions to a higher rate.

The most frequent employer match formula before and after the suspension matched 50% of employees' salary deferrals, up to 6% of pay. The median duration for match suspensions was 12 months.

“Many employers are making it a priority to contribute to their workers’ retirement accounts,” Robyn Credico, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson, said in a statement. “Employers understand the importance of helping and encouraging their employees to save for retirement.”

“With 401(k) plans now the primary retirement savings vehicle for most workers, it is very encouraging to see that the vast majority of employers have reinstated their matching contributions,” she added.

The analysis found that the vast majority (83%) suspended their matching programs in the first half of 2009.





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