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

Researchers at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., 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 rose to 4.6% in the 1st quarter of 2009, up from 3.9% in the 4th quarter of 2008.

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

The percentage of participants who changed asset allocations grew to 25%, from 20% in the 4th 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 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.