Over the past 25 years, the number of defined benefit (DB) plans has declined while the number of defined contribution (DC) plans has increased. Today, DC plans are the dominant type of employer-sponsored retirement plans, with more than 49 million U.S. workers participating in them. 401(k) plans currently cover over 85 percent of active DC plan participants and are the fastest growing type of employer-sponsored pension plan. Given these shifts in pension coverage, workers are increasingly relying on 401(k) plans for their pension income. Recently, policy makers have focused attention on the ability of 401(k) plans to provide participants with adequate retirement income and the challenges that arise as 401(k) plans become the predominant retirement savings plan for employees. As a result, GAO was asked to report on (1) challenges to building and maintaining of savings in 401(k) plans, and (2) recent measures to improve 401(k) participation and savings levels.
Skip to Highlights