Despite all the turmoil, young retirement plan participants are saving more.

Researchers at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., have published that finding in an analysis of data from MassMutual-administered employer-sponsored retirement plans.

The average savings rate for a MassMutual plan participant under the age of 30 increased to 4.6% in the first quarter of 2009, up from 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

About 2.4% of plan participants increased their savings rates, and about 87% held their savings rates steady, MassMutual reports.

The percentage of participants who changed asset allocations increased to 25%, from 20% in the fourth quarter. A majority of the changes led to increases in the percentage of assets going to stable-value or lifecycle investment options, MassMutual says.

For participants ages 30 and older, the average first-quarter balance decline was 3%.

That compares with an 11% drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index during the quarter, MassMutual says.