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2018 Universe Benchmarks Highlights

Highlights from the 2018 Universe Benchmarks Report.

Average plan balances hit record highs, assisted by strong market returns and increased contributions.

The average plan balance grew 14% in 2017.


year-end 2017 average plan balance.


Among workers participating for at least two years, average balances up nearly 50%.

Auto enrollment continues to drive up participation rates.


average participation rate in 2017


participation rate for plans with auto enrollment


participation rate for plans without auto enrollment

Average savings rates increased.


Average savings rate in 2016


Average savings rate in 2017


Nearly one-quarter of all participants are enrolled in automatic contribution escalation.

Participants reaped the benefits of a strong year on Wall Street.


was the average return on investments in 2017

1 in 3

participants had a rate of return of 20% or more

Target date funds are widely (mis)used.


participants invested in target date funds when available


of target date fund users were also invested in other funds

Related Insights

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™

Monthly and quarterly Alight Solutions 401(k) Index Reports

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index: April 2022 Observations

There were no above-normal1 days in April. However, net transfers in April were up slightly compared to March (.10% vs .09%) as investors moved money out of equities and into fixed income.

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: July 2021 Observations

July was another light month of trading in 401(k) plans, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index TM. Net trading activity in July was 0.07% of balances, a slight increase from 0.06% in June, but well below the trailing five-year average of 0.21%.