U.S. employers contributed $196 billion to defined contribution plans in 2017. While this figure is the highest it's been since the Federal Reserve began recording the data in 1984, growth figures show that employers are slowing their support of employees' retirement savings. Employer contributions grew $7 billion from 2016, or 3.7%. Both figures have been declining year-over-year since 2014. Corporate after-tax profits, according to Federal Reserve data, averaged 1.28% on a quarterly year-over-year basis over that period.
Vanguard's 2018 iteration of its “How America Saves” report showed that 46% of its 10,800 clients use auto enrollment across a combined 4.9 million participants, up from 36% in 2014 and 20% in 2008. The same report shows that the average total deferral rate was 10.3% in 2017, with the average participant deferral rate at 6.8%. Since 2013 the total deferral rate declined 0.6 percentage points, while the employee deferral rate fell 0.2 percentage points, suggesting that employers are putting more of the onus on their employees to save for retirement.