Average 401(k) Deferrals Increased—Barely

Contributions to 401(k) plans went up nearly 1% since 1988, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Data in a new report show the average contribution to 401(k)-type plans was 7.5% in 2006, unchanged from 2003 but up from the 6.6% in 1988 and 7.1% in 1993.

A news release from EBRI said the data also showed that from 1993 to 2006, about 45% of 401(k) participants contributed 5% or less of their salary, while the remaining participants were about equally divided between those who contributed 5% to 10% and those who contributed 10% or more.

The high contributors—those who deferred 10% of more of their salary—were more likely to contribute a higher amount in 2006 than in 1993, EBRI said.

EBRI said the average deferral for 401(K)-type plans for nonagricultural wage and salary workers age 16 and over included:

  • 1998: 6.6%
  • 1993: 7.1%
  • 1998: 7.4%.
  • 2003: 7.5%.
  • 2006: 7.5%.

The article is based on 2006 data from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data (the latest available). The EBRI Notes is here.