Workers Want Access to DC Plans

A majority of private industry workers would opt to participate in a defined contribution plan if their companies offered them, according to a recent Department of Labor report.

The report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 65% of service workers and part-time workers and as much as 86% of union workers said they would enroll in such plans.

The research also suggested that differences in participation rates for defined contribution plans are due more to workers’ access rather than workers’ willingness to get involved. Only 25% of part-time workers have access while 63% of full-time workers and 70% of workers at companies with more than 100 employees have access to DC plans.

Full-time workers holding lower wage jobs had greater access (53%) than for all workers in lower wage jobs (43%), but still fell behind the access rate for full-time workers in higher wage jobs (72%).

“Workers in lower wage jobs appear to be at a disadvantage when it comes to saving for retirement,” the report said. “Not only do lower wage workers generally have less access to defined contribution retirement plans, they also tend to have less money available for savings.”

The results showed that the rate for full-time workers in small establishments also was higher than the rate for all workers in small establishments, but it still trailed the access rate for full-time workers in larger establishments.

According to the BLS data, current worker participation in defined contribution plans is as follows:

  • Union workers were slightly more likely (44%) than non-union workers (43%) to participate.

  • 53% of white collar workers participated, while 40% of blue collar workers did so.

  • Just more than half (51%) of full-time workers participated in the plans, while 16% of part-time workers did so.

  • Workers making $15 or more per hour were more likely (58%) than those making less than $15 an hour (31%).

Additional government retirement trends research is here and here.