Younger 401(k) Participants Saw Account Balance Hike in Downturn

Younger participants with fewer years on the job have fared reasonably well with their 401(k) accounts during the economic downturn compared with their older colleagues who have not been nearly so lucky.

That was according to the latest data released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) that have been collaborating since 1996 on a 401(k) database, according to a news release.

EBRI/ICI data show that participants up to 35 years old (as of 2006) who had one to five years on the job saw an average account balance increase of 35% between January 1, 2007, and November 26, 2008. Those with between six and 10 years were only up slightly, while those with 11 to 20 years on the job lost an average of approximately 6%.

The biggest losers, according to the EBRI/IRC data, were those age 36 to 45 with 21 to 30 years on the job who saw an average setback of 15% in their 401(k) balances in the January 1, 2007, to November 26 period. Those with 11 to 20 years on the job in the same age group suffered an approximate 11% average balance decline.

Among older participants, the EBRI/ICI data showed that workers with 21 to 30 years on the job who are 56 to 65 years old saw an average 401(k) balance decline of about 11%.

The EBRI/ICI data is available here.