Even as lots of people these days are thinking, “Retirement? What’s that?” others are lucky enough to belong to a retirement plan of some sort. But retirement is a luxury not offered to just anyone; all over the country, retirement plan participation is on a downturn, along with the economy.
In fact, according to figures compiled by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), and released Tuesday, fewer than half the 156.2 million workers in the U.S. were even offered the opportunity, whether by a private employer or public entity.
According to the October EBRI brief “Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2010,” approximately 40% of all workers took the opportunity when offered. While different demographic groups participate at different rates—much lower among both Hispanics and those without a high school diploma, for instance—that still means that, of 75 million given the chance, 60.7 million seized the brass ring.
The study not only looked at 2010’s overall figures, but calculated a three-year moving average trend for 2001-2010. The three-year average looked at wage and salary for workers ages 21-64 and the percentage of that specific group able to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
The ultimate irony, perhaps, is that many covered by a retirement plan work in states where they might not choose to retire. Here are the top 10 states where the most employees participate in a retirement plan at work.
10. Virginia—44.4% Overall
(3-Year Moving Avg.: 51.5%)
Overall, 44% of working Virginians have a retirement plan of some sort. But Virginia has lost some ground in the three-year moving average, falling from 2001’s 55.8% to 2010’s 51.5%. Yet within the consolidated area of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and northern Virginia, the participation of public sector employees ages 21-64 in a retirement plan is pretty hefty: 79.3% of those offered the option take it.
So if you plan to enjoy all the delights of retired life in Virginia, you might want to look for work in the public sector.
9. Hawaii—44.5% Overall
(3-Year Moving Avg.: 50%)
Oh, who cares what the numbers are? Surely you can figure out a way to stay in Hawaii if you managed to work there in the first place! Sun, sand, surf, hula dancing and luaus, slack-key guitar … need we say more?
(Actually, Hawaii hasn’t lost as much retirement ground as the mainland; 2001’s percentage was 52.3%, and 2010’s was 50%. Extra reason to stick around.)
8. Delaware—44.7% Overall
(3-Year Moving Avg.: 49.2%)
Retirement plan participation is falling in Delaware, too, despite—or perhaps because of—its business-friendly nature. More than 50% of U.S. publicly traded corporations and 60% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware.
The overall average for 2010 was 44.7%, but that three-year moving average of retirement plan participation dropped from 57% in 2001 to 49.2% in 2010. Of course, there are plenty of coastal attractions, so you could have a second career as a beachcomber.
7. Maryland—44.9% Overall
(3-Year Moving Avg.: 49.1%)
It should come as no surprise that here, too, despite an overall rate of 44.9%, the trend is down on retirement plan participation, falling from a 2001 three-year average of 56.5% to a 2010 three-year average of 49.1%.
At this rate, don’t plan on betting on the Preakness with those retirement dollars, or you might find yourself currying the horses at Pimlico instead of currying favor with the owners in the stands.
6. Minnesota—45.1% Overall
(3-Year Moving Avg.: 53.2%)
Minnesota’s three-year trend for participants is on the downward slope, along with its overall number of 45.1%. In 2001, Minnesota stood at 59.2%; by 2010 it had fallen to 53.2%.