American families' involvement in retirement plans are on the decrease, and their ownership of IRAs is also on a downward slope, after strong increases in the last two decades.

But if there's any good news in there for the 401(k) industry, EBRI research suggests that those dwindling participants are more likely to be participating in a 401(k) than any other retirement product. And, along the way, the 401(k) has become a much more important repository of future wealth than any other financial vehicle.

Data from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that the percentage of American families with at least one member involved in an employment-based retirement plan of any kind increased considerably, at first, from 38.8 percent in 1992 to 40.6 percent in 2007. But the figure dropped in 2010, to a low of 37.9 percent.

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