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Which industries offer the best performing 401(k)s?

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There are major differences in the performance of 401(k) plans across various industries nationwide, according to an analysis by Judy Diamond Associates.

The firm looked at the average scores for 401(k) plans in 20 different industry classifications and discovered a 38 percent gap in the average score between the top ranking group and the lowest ranking group.

“While it won’t shock many to learn that financial professionals have the best performing 401(k) plans, when looking at the spread it becomes clear that there’s a real disparity between the top and bottom industries,” said Eric Ryles, managing director of Judy Diamond Associates.

“Workers on the bottom rung are faced with special difficulties in saving enough for retirement, and may have to contend with low (or no) employer matches, lack of financial education and sub-optimal contribution rates.”

Judy Diamond Associates calculates scores using an algorithm that considers key measures of a plan’s performance compared to other plans nationwide.

For this study, it looked at the average plan score for each of the 20 highest level industry groupings from within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which encompasses more than 517,000 plans and $3.47 trillion in total assets.

Low plan scores can be the result of factors such as low participation rates, declines in contributions and the requirement for a plan to issue corrective distributions.

Judy Diamond Associates, a Summit based Professional Networks company, based this research on the most recently available 401(k) plan disclosure documents released by the Department of Labor.

Industries ranked 6 through 20 can be found following our top 5 list. The top five average 401(k) plan scores by industry (in ascending order) are:

Professional, scientific and technical services5. Professional, scientific and technical services

NAIC code: 54

Number of plans: 112,988

Avg. plan score: 60.4

See also: 10 best states in which to have a 401(k) [infographic]

Utilities4.  Utilities

NAIC code 22

Number of plans: 1,832

Avg. plan score: 60.7

See also: Time to clean out the attic of your 401(k)?

Mining3. Mining

NAIC code: 21

Number of plans: 3,073

Avg. plan score: 61.0

See also: Herb Brooks and the miracle of the 401(k)

Health care and social assistance2. Health Care and Social Assistance

NAIC code: 62

Number of plans: 100,391

Avg. plan score: 61.6

See also: What’s your plan for your best clients’ 401(k)s?

Finance and insurance1. Finance and insurance

NAIC code: 52

Number of plans: 35,062

Avg. plan score: 61.8

See also: Top 1% of plans hold more than 71% of all 401(k) assets

 Rank

Row Labels

NAICS code

Number of plans 

Avg. plan score

6

Management of Companies and Enterprises

55

1,760

57.7

7

Wholesale Trade

42

28,549

57.4

8

Information

51

10,303

56.1

9

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

11

5,417

55.9

10

Public Administration

92

301

55.7

11

Real Estate Rental and Leasing

53

13,879

55.2

12

Other Services

81

27,234

55.1

13

Manufacturing

31-33

61,418

54.4

14

Construction

23

39,490

54.4

15

Educational Services

61

4,412

52.4

16

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services

56

12,576

52.1

17

Transportation and Warehousing

48-49

10,577

51.7

18

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

71

6,301

51.6

19

Retail Trade

44-45

34,116

51.3

20

Accommodation and Food Services

72

7,698

   

44.8