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9 industries and how they match up with retirement plans

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Which field you work in might make the difference between whether you have access to a retirement plan or not — and even how much you might be able to save.

Sound surprising? According to a study by the ADP Research Institute, which looked at nine different industry sectors to see who offered what (and who saved how much), the odds of your having a retirement plan are far better if you’re in manufacturing than in any of the other eight sectors.

Manufacturing employees are likely so fortunate because of the presence of unions in the sector, said the study, since “certain benefits may be contractually obligated.”

Employees get the chance to save, and they take it — although, interestingly enough, participants in manufacturing aren’t the highest-rate savers. That honor belongs to another sector, and it’s probably because of salary levels. More about that in a minute, however.

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Just half of all the companies the institute surveyed offer retirement plans, so the odds are pretty much even whether people will have access to a plan or not.

But the most unfortunate sector — for its employees — is leisure and hospitality, where not only do less than a quarter of employees have access to a plan, their savings rate — when they have one — is near the bottom.

One other takeaway has to do with size: not just the business sector, but the size of the company you work for, can determine whether you’ll have a retirement plan.

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Looking strictly at company size, just a third of companies with fewer than 20 employees provide retirement benefits to their employees, while 98 percent of companies numbering 5,000 or more do.

So size matters. Here’s a look at the nine business sectors and how they shake out with regard to retirement.


1. Manufacturing

Manufacturing wins the employee benefit honors, with 67.1 percent of employers within the sector offering their employees retirement plans.

In addition, 96.5 percent of employees within the sector work for companies that have plans, although only 69.4 percent of those employees use the plans to save money.

Those who do save are serious about it, though, putting away an average of 6.9 percent of their savings.

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2. Information

Those working in the information field are also fortunate, with 63 percent of employers in the sector offering retirement plans.

More information employees — 98.7 percent, in fact — work at companies with benefits, and information sector employees are the most serious about saving, with 74.5 percent socking it away for the day after tomorrow.

Those savers tie with manufacturing for how much they save, though, at 6.9 percent.


3. Professional and business services

Employees in this sector are also fairly lucky, considering that 55.9 percent of employers in the sector provide retirement plans. (But notice how the number is dropping?)

And 97.8 percent of employees in this sector work for companies that offer plans.

While not as many save in retirement plans in this sector, at 60.3 percent, these guys save the most, at an average rate of 7.1 percent. That could be a function of salary.

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4. Financial activities

It seems a little off, somehow, that just 52.4 percent of companies engaged in financial activities provide their employees with retirement plans.

The good news is that 95.9 percent of the employees in this sector work for a firm with such benefits.

But you would think such employees would know how important it is to save, and the participation rate in this sector — at 67.6 percent — is lower than that in the information sector. Go figure. And the savings rate is lower, too, at 6.6 percent.


5. Education and health services

Fifty-one point five percent of these employers offer retirement plans, and 93.8 percent of employees working in the sector work for one of them.

But just 51.1 percent of employees manage to take advantage of this very important benefit, with a savings rate of 6.5 percent.

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6. Transportation and utilities

Now we drop under half, with just 49.7 percent of employers in this sector providing their employees with a chance to retire.

Fortunately, 94 percent of employees in this field work for one of those firms — which, remembering the statistics correlating firm size to a retirement plan, indicates that bigger is certainly better in this case.

Within this sector, 54.9 percent of employees save, and — how embarrassing! — they beat out financial sector employees by saving more, at 6.7 percent.


7. Wholesale and retail trade

Only 47.8 percent of employers in this sector provide retirement plans; 93.1 percent of the employees in this sector work for them.

At 58.5 percent, significantly more employees save than in the education and health sector, but their savings rate is a tad lower, at 6.4 percent.

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8. Construction

Just 40 percent of employers in the construction industry offer employees a retirement plan, and only 82 percent of employees in the sector work for that minority.

But 43.7 percent of them manage to save for retirement, and they put away an average of 6.1 percent of their pay.

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9. Leisure and hospitality

Next time you’re on vacation, pity the poor people working at the place where you’re staying.

Odds are that they don’t have access to a retirement plan, with just 23.3 percent of firms in the sector even bothering to offer one — although the good thing (if there is one) is that 78.9 percent of the people in the sector work for that small percentage of firms providing retirement benefits.

However, that’s where the good news ends. Only 34.5 percent of the sector’s employees who have access to a plan manage to use it. Their savings rate is surprisingly high, though, at 6.2 percent — better than in construction.

According to the study, both lower pay and part-time and seasonal work make it hard for this sector’s employees to save money. Even if they qualify as full-timers eligible to participate, they might not make enough money to be able to do so.