DC Assets at $4.5T in 2011

Total U.S. retirement assets were $17.9 trillion as of December 31, 2011, up 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and about unchanged for the year.

Retirement savings accounted for 36% of all household financial assets in the United States at the end of 2011, according to data from the Investment Company Institute (ICI). 

Assets in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) totaled $4.9 trillion at the end of 2011, an increase of 4.6% from the end of the third quarter. Defined contribution (DC) plan assets rose 4.8% in the fourth quarter to $4.5 trillion.  

Government pension plans—including federal, state, and local government plans—held $4.5 trillion in assets as of December 31, up 6.6% from September 30. Private-sector defined benefit plans held $2.4 trillion in assets at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, and annuity reserves outside of retirement accounts accounted for another $1.6 trillion. 

Americans held $4.5 trillion in all employer-based DC retirement plans on December 31, 2011, of which $3.1 trillion was held in 401(k) plans. Those figures are up from $4.3 trillion and $2.9 trillion, respectively, as of September 30, 2011. Mutual funds managed $2.5 trillion of the assets held in 401(k), 403(b), and other DC plans at the end of December, up from $2.3 trillion at the end of September. 

Mutual funds managed 55% of DC plan assets at the end of the fourth quarter.  Forty-five percent of IRA assets, or $2.2 trillion, was invested in mutual funds.
As of December 31, 2011, target date mutual fund assets totaled $376 billion, up 9.6% in the fourth quarter and up 10.6% for the year. Retirement accounts held the bulk of target date mutual fund assets: 91% of target date mutual fund assets were held through DC plans and IRAs.