There's a lot of talk about the adequacy of the current 401(k) system. Naysayers complain it's notbroadly accessible, and in a sense, that's true. According to thelatest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' NationalCompensation Survey, 40 percent of all workers don't have access toa defined contribution benefit. (The BLS istalking only about company-sponsored benefits, not IRAs.)

In lamenting the lack of 401(k) availability, some suggest we'dall be better off with defined benefit plans. Unfortunately, theBLS indicates 72 percent of all workers do not have access todefined benefit plans. Pensions don't appear to be as realistic analternative as some may think.

The BLS statistics include both government and private workers.This may skew the results more favorably to pensions (which mostgovernment workers have) and less favorably to 401(k) plans (whichmost government workers do not have). The best example is thebreakdown on “public administration” workers (not includingeducation and health services) offered by the BLS. While 87 percentof those workers have access to a defined benefit plan, only 36percent have access to a defined contribution plan.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook ( Twitter (