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Insights on Alight’s Universe Benchmarks Report 2022

By Rob Austin, FSA, Vice President Head of Research Wealth Solutions & Strategy

The eminently quotable Winston Churchill once remarked, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” 

Alight knows that employers have developed remarkable retirement plans for their workers—mostly because we look at the results. Nowhere are the results more noticeable than in our annual Universe Benchmarks report.

At its core, the Universe Benchmarks report summarizes retirement savings and investing behavior data from over 100 plans covering 3 million eligible workers.

While the statistics are important, perhaps the most  valuable part of the report is the context for the numbers.  Instead of just reporting averages, the report dives deep into how behaviors differ by gender, age, tenure, and industry. 

And these numbers are always presented in historical context because Alight has been issuing the Universe Benchmarks for over two decades. Through these lenses, we can see just how far people have come with retirement savings.  Among the highlights:


The average participation rate across plans, the highest we have ever seen.


On average, workers are saving 8.6% of pay—an increase from 8.3% in 2020.


The average plan balance reached an all-time high, up from $130,330 last year.

What is most interesting is the fact that loans are at record low levels.  This may be because of the increased distributions from plans in 2020 due to the CARES Act or perhaps the downward trend will continue. 

Nonetheless, we realize there is room for improvement across all the statistics.  So, throughout the report, we included suggestions and recommendations to optimize savings and improve retirement security.

Rob Austin
Rob Austin
By Rob Austin

Rob is a Fellow the Society of Actuaries and began work in 1998 as a pension actuary and retirement consultant. In his role at Alight, Rob examines participant behavior across the healthcare and retirement landscape. He is considered a leading expert on retirement issues and often discusses them in the media.

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