The overall value of total retirement benefits in eight industries studied fell to an average of 6.4% of pay in the United States in 2008, from 7.9% in 1998.

Towers Watson & Company, New York (NYSE:TW), has published those figures in an analysis that includes defined benefit pension plans, defined contribution retirement plans, retiree medical insurance and retiree life insurance.

The largest decline was found in the retail and wholesale industries, with a drop of 33% in benefits value. The service industry was the only industry in which the value of total retirement benefits increased, Towers Watson found. There, the value of retirement benefits rose 3%.

Employer decisions to cut and restructure retirement benefits programs hurt retirement benefits value, Towers Watson notes. Increases in defined contribution account values helped offset some of the decline.

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