Workplace retirement plan participation steadies in 2011

Participation levels in employment-based retirement plans remained relatively unchanged in 2011, according to a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

EBRI found that the 2011 participation rate of 39.7% for all workers was just off the 39.8% rate for 2010, halting a downward trend caused by economic and financial market downturns in the three previous years. The rates were based on U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey data.

“The stabilization of the economy since the downturn means that people are starting to come back to work and are able to participate in retirement plans,” said Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate and the report's author, in an interview.

Full-year private and public sector workers ages 21–64, who are most likely to be offered a retirement plan at work, had the highest participation rate at 53.7%, down slightly from 54.5% in 2010, Mr. Copeland said, “because the makeup of the new jobs added have a lower likelihood of participation overall.”