Pension & Benefits News Only 11 percent of workers participate in defined benefit plans, EBRI says
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Only 11 percent of workers participate in defined benefit plans, EBRI says

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The percentage of private-sector wage and salary workers participating in defined benefit (DB) plans has decreased from 38 percent in 1979 to 11 percent in 2017, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The study, Tracking the Shift in Private-Sector, Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation From Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution Plans, 1979-2017, noted that this is a decrease of 71 percent, signifying a profound change to the American retirement landscape and introducing new challenges to private-sector workers in retirement.

Correspondingly, the percentage of workers participating in defined contribution (DC) plans went from 17 percent to 46 percent (with some workers participated in both types of plans).

“Employers and policymakers have long been aware that having an employment-based retirement plan is one of the most significant predictors of an individual having a financially secure retirement,” said Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate. “But it is also important to note that the move toward DC plans comes with an increased responsibility for retirees to figure out how to make those assets last throughout retirement. Developing a reliable drawdown strategy is of critical importance.”


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