Participants in 401(k) plans have seen their salaries rise since 2007, but they are contributing less to their retirement plans over time, according to new research by JPMorgan. And target date funds continue to have too much volatility embedded in their portfolio design.

"Ready! Fire! Aim?" examines the effectiveness of various target date strategies to see if they are helping 401(k) participants save enough for retirement. The research was designed to help plan sponsors think through portfolio and glide path design to make more effective decisions around the type of strategy that best meets a particular plan's needs and goals.

What it found is that contribution rates for auto-enrolled participants are even lower than the average starting contribution rates of plan participants. It also found that a large number of participants continue to take sizable account loans, and pre-retirement hardship withdrawals and withdrawals by younger participants are on the rise. Post-retirement, most participants continue to withdraw their entire account balances within three years after they stop working.

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