Surprise! A lot of people are still in pension plans

Surprise! A lot of people are still in pension plans


By Jane Smith

The newest addition to our Statistics pages reveals what some may consider a surprising fact: Nearly one-third of private-sector workers participating in retirement plans are in pension plans.

Although there’s been a shift to 401(k)-type retirement savings plans, pension plans remain popular because of the security they provide to workers and retirees. Most people with pension plans have guaranteed lifetime benefits that can’t be scaled back unless a plan runs out of money.

At a time when, according to a recent Gallup Poll, the top financial concern of American workers is running out of money in retirement, workers value this sense of certainty.

In fact, survey results from the National Institute on Retirement Security show that four out of five Americans have a favorable view of pensions and 71 percent believe that pensions do a better job of helping workers achieve a secure retirement than 401(k) plans.

Overall, 17 million private-sector workers are  in pension plans. This figure rises to 31 million when state and local government workers are counted. Stated differently, of the  72 million workers fortunate enough to be in some kind of retirement plan, 43 percent of them are in pension plans providing secure income for life.

Visit our Statistics page to take a look at these and other statistics we have compiled about participation in workplace retirement plans.

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