Many Participants Are Leaving Money on the Table

Despite significant progress made in recent years, research suggests millions of working Americans are missing out on the full retirement plan match offered by their employer.

By DJ Shaw


Millions of Americans are not contributing enough to their workplace retirement plan to get the full company match, as a recent study found 12% of employed adults—or as many as 17.5 million working Americans—aren’t contributing enough.

According to a MagnifyMoney survey of 1,233 employed Americans, 59% say their employer offers a retirement saving plan, 34% say their employers do not and 7% did not know if a plan was offered. Those with higher annual household incomes are more likely to work in jobs with employer-sponsored retirement savings plans—78% among those with incomes of $100,000 or more, versus 41% among those with incomes below $35,000, according to the survey.

Among those respondents whose employers offer plans, 83% say they are currently contributing to the plan, 12% have contributed to it in the past but aren’t doing so currently and 6% have never enrolled.

The survey found there are several reasons employees decide not to contribute to their retirement plans. Thirty-five percent of respondents say they could not afford to contribute to their plan—the top reason. Meanwhile, 17% say they forget to enroll and 12% are waiting until they are older.

Men are more likely than women to work for an employer that offers a retirement saving plan (64% versus 56%), and women were less likely than men to know if their employer offers matching funds (20% of women didn’t know versus 12% of men).

The survey also examined if those who were saving were accumulating enough to last through retirement. Just 20% of respondents said their retirement plan balances have reached $100,000 or more, with significantly more men (30%) than women (11%) in this category. Older generations were more likely to have higher balances in their retirement accounts, with 48% of Baby Boomers and 31% of Generation Xers having a balance of $100,000 or more, versus 9% of Generation Zers and Millennials.

“If your employer offers to match a certain amount of your retirement contributions, that’s a part of your total compensation package,” says Ismat Mangla, MagnifyMoney senior content director. “Matching contributions from your employer will help you save and invest more for retirement. If you don’t contribute enough money to get your employer match, you are literally leaving free money on the table.”

 The full survey results are available here.

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