A 2-year decline in the percentage of workers participating in an employment-based retirement plan ended in 2003, rising slightly, according to a new analysis from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington.
However, the percentage of people working for an employer that sponsors some kind of retirement plan continued a recent decline.
EBRI blames a stagnant U.S. economy for the decline in retirement plan participation in 2001-2002.
EBRIs study of U.S. Census Bureau data also found that a gender gap in participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans has declined significantly over the past 16 years. (See chart.)
The portion of all workers in an employment-based retirement plan in 2003 rose to 42%, up slightly over the previous year but reversing a decline since 2000, when the ratio stood at 44%. For full-time, full-year workers ages 21 to 64, participation hit 57% percent, about the same as the 2002.
EBRI reports that 81% of U.S. workers work for an employer that sponsors a plan. But that proportion declined from almost 86% in 2000. Only about 64% of workers whose company had a plan actually took part in the plan in 2003, down from about 67% 3 years earlier.
Although female workers still participated in company plans at lower rates than men, this disparity has narrowed steadily, EBRI found.
In 2003, 50% of male wage and salary workers aged 20 to 64 participated in an employer retirement plan, compared to about 47% of women. In 1987, participation rates stood at 51% male and 41% female.