Much in the same way the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans hold a disproportionate share of the country's riches, the top 1 percent of 401(k) plans owns a lopsided proportion of defined contribution retirement assets.

Of the 540,000 active 401(k) plans as of the end of last year, 5,400, or 1 percent of sponsoring employers, held $3.06 trillion, or 71 percent of all assets, according to an analysis from Judy Diamond Associates, a provider of data and analytics tools for retirement advisors and plan sponsors. 

That the largest employers are dominant is not surprising, given that they employ the majority of Americans enrolled in retirement plans. The largest employers claim 45 million participants, or 56 percent of all enrollees. The balance, meaning that 99 percent, have 35 million participants, or 44 percent of all enrollees in defined contribution plans.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.