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Fidelity Investments reported this week that average 401(k) account balances surged to a 10-year high at the end of last year.

The average 401(k) account balance rose to $71,500 at the end of 2010, reaching a 10-year high since Fidelity began tracking the data based on the industry’s largest participant base of 11 million 401(k) accounts. For participants who were continuously active for the past 10 years, their average balance increased to $183,100 at the end of last year from $59,100 at the end of the fourth quarter 2000. Average participant deferrals remained at 8.2 percent for an eighth straight quarter. For a seventh straight quarter, more participants increased their total deferral rate than decreased (6.1 percent versus 3 percent respectively).

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