The average participant account balance in corporate 401(k) plans for which Fidelity Investments is record keeper climbed 41% to $66,900 in the year ended March 31, confirmed Michael Shamrell, a spokesman for Fidelity.
The average account balance as of March 31, 2009, was $47,500, he said in an interview.
Fidelity's calculation was based on records of 11 million participants in 17,000 corporate defined contribution plans for which Fidelity is record keeper, Mr. Shamrell said.
The average account balance as of March 31 was up 4.2% from an average of $64,200 as of Dec. 31, Mr. Shamrell said.
About 7.5% of investors in 401(k) plans increased their contributions, up from 5% in the last quarter, Fidelity said. It was the fourth straight quarter during which more investors increased their savings rates than decreased them.
In a separate report, almost 202,000 of investors with Bank of America Merrill Lynch changed their contribution rate, with 66% of them increasing their savings or starting to contribute.
Automatic escalation of savings within retirement plans was “not a significant driver of increased contributions rates during the first quarter,” Matt Card, a BofA Merrill Lynch spokesman, wrote in an e-mail response to questions.
“Increased contribution rates to 401(k) plan accounts during the last couple of quarters is evidence of an improving economy,” said Kevin Crain, head of institutional client relationships for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.