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Sources for workplace retirement participation statistics

Date Published: 
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Jane Smith

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2019,” Private Industry Tables, Table 2.
Also: Civilian Workers, and State and local government workers,

Note: The NCS survey excludes agricultural workers, private household workers, the self-employed, military and federal government workers.  The NCS is a survey of businesses and survey responses are provided by employers.


A pension plan is a traditional or hybrid defined benefit plan. In 2019 thirty eight percent of workers in a private-sector pension plan were in a cash-balance or other hybrid plan.  Also, thirty eight percent of workers in private-sector pension plans in 2019 were in plans that were closed to new entrants. All but fourteen percent of those workers are still earning benefits under their “frozen” plans.
See: https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/detailedprovisions/2019/ownership/private/table04a.pdf
and https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2019/ownership/private/table05a.pdf

A retirement savings plan is an employer-sponsored plan where plan participants have individual accounts.  These include 401(k), 403(b), 457, and SIMPLE savings plans where employees typically are required to contribute in order to receive benefits, as well as profit-sharing, money purchase, Simplified Employee Plans (SEP), ESOPs, and other individual account plans. Nearly 80 percent of private industry workers participating in individual account plans are in 401(k)-type plans.
See: https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/detailedprovisions/2019/ownership/private/table19a.pdf