Fidelity Investments reported Tuesday that its average 401(k) balance rose to $74,600 at the end of the first quarter, up 8% from the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. The first-quarter balance also represents a 62% increase since the end of the first quarter of 2009, often considered the low of the 2008-2009 market downturn, when the average balance was $46,200.
Strong stock market performance in the first quarter accounted for approximately 80% of the account balance growth with the other 20% attributed to both participant and employer contributions, according to the company.
“Participants have become much more engaged in their financial futures, as demonstrated by increased savings levels quarter over quarter,” James MacDonald, president of workplace investing for Fidelity, said in a statement. “We also see clear evidence that employers can have a meaningful impact on employee retirement readiness by fostering a culture of savings at the workplace.”
According to Fidelity, additional highlights from the first quarter include: