Little Change, But Positive Movement for 401(k) Balances

With just one month to go in 2015, the average 401(k) balance gained a little more ground in November, though it was contributions that seemed to do most of the heavy lifting.

The average account balance of younger, less-tenured workers (age 25-34, 1-4 years of tenure) climbed 1.6% in November, on top of October’s 7.8% surge. The average balance of older workers, notably those with 20-29 years of tenure, aged 55-64, eked out a 0.1% gain, though that group had seen a 5.2% increase the month before, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Older, higher tenured participants tend to have larger account balances, and the movement in average balance tends to be more influenced by market moves, while the accounts of younger, less tenured workers are more likely to be influenced by contribution flows.

The EBRI/ICI database includes demographic, contribution, asset allocation and loan and withdrawal activity information for millions of participants. EBRI has produced estimates of the cumulative changes in average account balances — both as a result of contributions and investment returns — for several combinations of participant age and tenure.

You can access reports of both cumulative and monthly average account changes here.

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