Form 5500 Data Highlights DB to DC Shift

Data from 2012 Form 5500 filings of retirement plans provides evidence of the increasing coverage of employees by defined contribution (DC) rather than defined benefit (DB) plans.

The number of DB plans slipped in 2012, by 3.4%, according to “Private Pension Plan Bulletin Abstract of 2012 Form 5500 Annual Reports” by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA). The number of active participants in DB plans decreased for the 13th straight year, by 4.2% in the same year.

Meanwhile, although the total number of DC plans declined by 0.8%, the number of 401(k)-type plans rose in 2012, from 513,000 to 516,000. The number of active participants in 401(k)-type plans grew by 3%.

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DC plan contributions increased by 6.9%, to $352.8 billion, and DB plan contributions decreased by 4.8%, to $128.7 billion. Meanwhile, DB plans disbursed $70.4 billion more than they collected in contributions, while DC plans disbursed $19 billion less than they received in contributions.

The number of DB plans that report being fully frozen decreased in 2012, to 10,200, from 10,400 in 2011. The share of DB plan assets in plans that were frozen jumped, from 12% in 2011, to 13.9% in 2012.

Assets for both DB and DC plans increased in 2012. DB plan assets increased 8% to $2.72 trillion, while DC assets increased 11.3% to $4.26 trillion.

The EBSA report is at