Retirement Market Sheds Nearly a Quarter of Assets in 2008

Total U.S. retirement market assets, including both defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) plans, tumbled 24% to $7.86 trillion in 2008, down from $10.3 trillion the prior year, according to a new report by Spectrem Group.

Assets held in defined contribution plans fell 21% in 2008 to $3.8 trillion, down from $4.8 trillion the year before, according to a Spectrem press release. However, the popularity of these plans continued to increase overall, with DC plans as a percentage of all retirement assets expanding to a record 49% in 2008.

In the corporate sector specifically, 401(k) plans, which account for 71% of all corporate retirement assets, fell to $1.94 trillion in 2008 (a 23% decline from $2.52 trillion in 2007). However, average annual growth remained positive at 7.8% from 1995 to 2008, the press release said.

The Spectrem report, “Retirement Market Insights 2009,” is based on data derived from both public and private sources, as well as Spectrem surveys. To order the report, visit