Despite the arrival of a severe bear market in the period, the average account balance among American workers who consistently held 401(k) accounts from 1999 through 2005 increased 50%.
That was one of the findings of a new study of 401(k) account holders by the Employee Benefits Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute, both in Washington.
For workers studied, the average account balance increased 10% last year. The average account balance rose to $102,014 at year-end 2005, from $67,785 at year-end 1999, among participants who maintained accounts for the entire period.
The EBRI-ICI database contains a snapshot of account information for almost 18 million 401(k) plan participants–about 37% of the estimated 47 million U.S. workers who took part in 401(k) plans at year-end 2005, EBRI says.
The average 401(k) balance of all participants at year-end 2005 was $58,328, while the median balance (half of all accounts held more, and half less) was $19,398.
EBRI cautions, however, such year-to-year snapshots can be misleading, since the sample of 401(k) participants changes as older, high-value account workers leave the 401(k) system and younger, low-value account workers enter.