When we last checked in with the Judy Diamond 401(k) Benchmark Report, the plan year was 2020 and the ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic had taken its toll. Eric Ryles, vice president of Judy Diamond Associates, stressed that although numbers were still moving in the right direction, the rate of the increase had "slowed dramatically."

"The plan year represented by this data is not like other years," Ryles understated.

The latest report, which analyzed 600,000 active retirement plans with $8 trillion in assets covering 96 million workers, from the ALM Global-affiliated group – and sister unit of BenefitsPro – strikes a more hopeful tone, if still a cautious one. "The 2021 plan year was the second year of the global pandemic, and it's easy to see the impact of COVID in certain data elements," Ryles stresses. The Accommodation and Food Services sector, for instance, was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The report, sponsored this year by Mutual of America, shows a decline of 43% in both employer and employee contributions, with a slight account balance fall from $29,415 to $28,032.

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.