401(k)s: one of the best employee benefits out there, but you have to actively participate in the program to reap any rewards later on in life. Though it may seem mind boggling to some, there are those employees who are offered generous 401(k)s but opt not to participate — for myriad reasons. 

And according to Judy Diamond Associates, employees in some states are vigilant about taking advantage of this retirement asset, while those in other states barely blink an eye at it. The company’s newest report reveals wide disparities in states’ performance on this crucial measure of retirement preparedness.

“The single biggest way an employer can help workers save for retirement is to ensure that they are actually participating in their plans,” said Eric Ryles, managing director of Judy Diamond Associates. “The best plan in the world is useless until a participant actually begins to contribute and build an account balance. Our research shows that employers in some states seem to be encouraging participation more effectively than others.”

And the 10 states with the highest 401(k) participation rates are: 

10. Virginia

Participation rate: 76.5 percent

9. Vermont

Participation rate: 76.6 percent

8. Hawaii and North Dakota (tie)

Participation rate: 77 percent

7. Wisconsin

Participation rate: 77.2 percent

6. Arkansas

Participation rate: 77.5 percent

5. Washington, DC (ranked as a state for survey purposes)

Participation rate: 78.6 percent

4. New York

Participation rate: 80 percent

3. Indiana 

Participation rate: 80.5 percent

2. Connecticut

Participation rate: 83.1 percent

1. Delaware

Participation rate: 85.8 percent

See also:

401(k)s: A good news, bad news story

More participants, higher contributions, fewer DC plans

HSAs: the next big thing in retirement planning?