U.S. life insurers held about $379 billion in individual retirement account assets in 2004, up from $338 billion in 2003.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, has published those statistics in a report based on data from the Federal Reserve Board.

Insurers’ share of IRA assets fell slightly, to 10.9%, from 11%, but they outperformed banks, which saw their share of assets fall to 7.8%, from 8.7%.

EBRI also has reported statistics suggesting that many U.S. workers ages 16 and older may be potential candidates for IRA sales: only 5.3% of workers with incomes between $30,000 and $49,000 contributed to IRAs in 2002, down from 6.4% in 1997.