Average balances of 401(k) retirement plans administered by Fidelity Investments rose to $74,900 in the first quarter, the highest level since the company began tracking account values in 1998.
The average account balance rose 5% from the end of 2010 and was up almost 12% from the first quarter of 2010.
“This for us is an all-time high since Fidelity began tracking this figure back in 1998,” said Beth McHugh, vice president of market insights for Fidelity. “The other positive indicator that we saw was more participants increasing deferrals vs. decreasing them.”
About 10% of workers increased their savings rate during the first quarter, the most since Fidelity started reporting on that number in 2006, Ms. McHugh said. Participants saved an average 8.2% of their salaries, a rate unchanged since the first quarter of 2009, she said.
Fidelity has 11 million participants in almost 16,500 employer-sponsored defined contribution plans.
Americans held $3.1 trillion in 401(k)s as of Dec. 31, according to the Investment Company Institute. In a separate study released Tuesday, ICI said the percentage of participants who stopped contributing to their defined contribution plans declined last year, while loan activity increased.
About 2.4% of workers halted contributions in 2010, compared with 3.4% in 2009, according to the ICI, which surveyed administrators of more than 23 million accounts. The share of those with loans outstanding rose to about 18% as of December, compared with about 17% at year end 2009, the report said.