Some retirement savers may be in a lot better shape than others.

Several organizations have released results from retirement surveys and plan analyses in the past few days. One paints a grim picture, one suggests that hospital plans may be faring well, and a third suggests 401(k) plan participants may be starting to recover from the effects of the economic crisis.

Several organizations have released results from retirement surveys and plan analyses in the past few days. One paints a grim picture, one suggests that hospital plans may be faring well, and a third suggests 401(k) plan participants may be starting to recover from the effects of the economic crisis.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio, and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a think tank that Nationwide helps sponsor, found that many consumers now appear to be too broke and too scared to think much about retirement.

The percentage of Americans who seem to be unprepared financially to retire at age 65 has increased to 51%, from 44% in 2007, according to the Center for Retirement Research.

Nationwide says its own, proprietary surveys of 1,143 U.S. adults show that the percentage of workers who agree with the statement that creating a retirement income source is important has dropped 60% over the past 2 years, and that the percentage who say they would seek advice before making investment decisions has dropped 25%.

A big retirement plan administrator, Diversified Investment Advisors Inc., Purchase, N.Y., worked with the American Hospital Association, Washington, to look at the state of the 403(b) defined contribution plans at hospitals and other large health care employers.

Although the 403(b) plans have undergone major regulatory changes in the past few years, and the percentage of 403(b) plan sponsors that offer traditional defined benefit pension plans plunged to 39% this year, from 51% in 2008, the 403(b) plans seem to be doing reasonably well, according to Diversified figures.

Only 4% of the sponsors have eliminated employer matching contributions, and only 8% have reduced the contributions.

Overall average contribution rates were only a little lower, and only 7% of plan participants have outstanding plan loans, Diversified reports.

A third organization, the retirement services division at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., says the 1 million participants in the 6,000 plans it serves were much more engaged in this summer than they were in the spring.

Call center activity increased 12%, and use of a Web-based educational website increased 51%, MassMutual says.

Plan plans increased, but only 2.2% of the participants borrowed from their plans, MassMutual reports.

Participants increased the percentage of plan assets in stocks and stock funds to 42% in the third quarter, from 38% in the second quarter, and the percentage of assets parked in stable value investments fell to 28%, from 32%.

The average participant balance increased by about 11% during the third quarter, and by about 20% during the first 3 quarters of the year.