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Plan Members Keep Cool

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Few 401(k) plan participants stopped making contributions in 2008, and the average participation contribution rate was only slightly lower.

Researchers at Hewitt Associates Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill., have published that finding in a summary of results from an analysis of the behavior of 2.7 million U.S. workers who are eligible to participate in 401(k) plans.

The average contribution rate fell to 7.4%, from 7.7%, but 15.4% increased their contribution rate, and only 14.9% cut their contribution rate, the researchers report.

Only about 20% of plan participants made any plan trades in 2008.

Despite the lack of trading, employees’ equity exposure fell, and use of stable-value funds increased 11%, researchers report.

The percentage of workers taking 401(k) plan loans was 23%, about the same as in previous years.

The percentage of workers who had half or more of their plan assets in their own employers’ stock fell to 9%, from 27% in 2004.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of thise story described the change in the average plan participant’s contribution rate incorrectly. The average contribution rate fell slightly.