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Retirement plans take a 24 percent nosedive

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Poof. Retirement assets are disappearing. Fast.

Retirement plans lost nearly a quarter of their value in 2008, according to findings from Spectrum Group released today. Total U.S. retirement market assets, which include both defined contribution and defined benefit plans, tumbled 24 percent to $7.86 trillion in 2008, down from $10.3 trillion the prior year, according to a new report, “Retirement Market Insights 2009.”

Assets held in defined contribution plans, which include 401(k)s, fell 21 percent in 2008 to $3.8 trillion, down from $4.8 trillion the year before. However, the popularity of these plans continued to increase overall, with DC plans as a percentage of all retirement assets expanding to a record 49 percent in 2008.

“Working Americans strongly support 401(k)s,” says Investment Company Institute president Paul Schott Stevens, who on Feb. 24 outlined ways to preserve and strengthen 401(k)s in a testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee.

Lawmakers continue to mull over ways to improve the nation’s retirement system. Stay tuned…