Solid market returns drove nationwide growth in 401(k) balances last year, though not every state enjoyed the same level of success, according to a study by Judy Diamond Associates.

"Although balances were up across the board, the increases were not evenly distributed," said Eric Ryles, managing director of Judy Diamond Associates. "There are very real differences in the best and worst states, with the top performer … though the majority of states were fairly well grouped into two clusters of roughly 11 percent and 12 percent."

The analysis compared average 401(k) account balances per participant in active plans in each state in 2011 and 2012, the most recent two years for which data is available.

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