New ESOPs Are Created Each Year

Research from the NCEO finds ESOPs still hold a significant amount of retirement plan assets.

As of 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 6,717 employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) in the United States, holding total assets of more than $1.3 trillion, according the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).

These plans cover over 14 million participants, of whom 10.6 million are active participants—those currently employed and covered by an ESOP.

There were 5,533 stand-alone ESOPs, covering approximately 1.8 million participants, with more than $130 billion in plan assets. There were 1,184 KSOPs (ESOPs with a 401(k) plan feature), covering approximately 12.3 million plan participants, with nearly $1.2 trillion in plan assets. These numbers are sourced from the NCEO’s analysis of the Private Pension Plan (PPP) Research File made available by the Department of Labor from data reported on the Form 5500.

Since 2010, an average of 229 new ESOPs have been created each year. The manufacturing industry sponsored more ESOPs than any other industry, at 22%, followed by professional/scientific/technical services (18%) and finance/insurance/real estate (17%). Nearly one-third (32%) of ESOPs/KSOPs are sponsored in the Midwest, with 23% in the West, 29% in the South and 17% in the Northeast.

The NCEO notes that from 2002 to 2014, despite a downtrend in the number of individual ESOPs, the number of participants has steadily increased.

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