Financial wellness programs are continuing to attract moreemployees, and that might be most beneficial to lower-incomeworkers, according to Financial Finesse’s review of data from2014.

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The provider of wellness programs to large employers found that since2010, sponsors are seeing participants access the tools at a 69percent annual growth rate, indicating that if given the chance,workers will use tech-based education programs.

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The San Diego-based firm, which, according to companyrepresentatives, has no financial relationships with retirementproduct providers, thinks the most recent data proves the value ofinvesting in education programs.

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And doing so can help lower-income workers most in need ofdirection.

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“Companies offering financial wellness programs can take heartthat their efforts are starting to reach employees who often havethe most financial stress,” according to a report on 2014’sdata.

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About half of employees with household income less than $35,000say their financial situation is not under control, but that isdown from 57 percent from 2013’s survey.

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More of those lower earners have an emergency fund and say theypay their bills on time. About 39 percent said they are comfortablewith their debt levels, up from 36 percent in 2013.

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Companies with wellness programs are reporting reductions inhardship withdrawals from 401(k) plans, according to FinancialFinesse’s report. In 2014, 24 percent of workers with access toeducation programs took a withdrawal, down from 30 percent, whichthe firm anecdotally links to increased adoption and use of theirproducts.

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But not all of 2014’s data suggests companies offering access tofinancial education program results in improved retirement savingsoutcomes.

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For lower-income workers with access to education programs, 76percent said they contribute to their workplace retirement plan,down from 80 percent in 2011. In fact, across the seven incomebrackets surveyed, extending up to those households with over$200,000 in income, participation rates were either slightly down,or even since 2011.

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And 83 percent of millennials contributed to their retirement plan, downfrom 88 percent in 2011. For all age groups, a general knowledge ofstocks, bonds and mutual funds was down in 2014 from 2011. Forworkers under 30, only 66 percent said they have a generalknowledge of basic investment vehicles, down from 75 percent in2011.

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Still, 401(k) participation rates for workers with access towellness plans remains high. And awareness of retirement is high;all age groups counted retirement preparedness as their primaryvulnerability, and all but millenials ranked retirement planning astheir No. 1 priority.

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