More than three in 10 Fortune 1000 companies with defined benefit plans have frozen at least one of those plans, according to a survey released today.
Of 607 employers on the 2009 Fortune 1000 list that sponsor defined benefit plans, 190 have frozen at least one of those plans, according to consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide. That 31.3% is up from last year, when 27.1% of 638 such companies had frozen at least one defined benefit plan.
As the corporate drive to freeze defined benefit plans was gathering strength in 2004, the first year of the survey, just 7.1% of Fortune 1000 companies with defined benefit plans had frozen one or more plans.
Among employers freezing defined benefit plans in the latest survey are insurer CIGNA Corp. and banking giant Wells Fargo & Co.
Employers freeze their plans for several reasons, including reducing retirement plan costs and volatility of required contributions for defined benefit plans, which can fluctuate significantly because of changes in interest rates and investment results.
The survey, based on a review of companies' SEC filings, is available at http://www.watsonwyatt.com.
Jerry Geisel is editor at large with Business Insurance, a sister publication of P&I Daily.