Skip to content

2023 Universe Benchmarks Report

How workers are saving and investing in defined contribution plans

Our 2023 Universe Benchmarks report is the latest in a long line of annual reports that illustrate how workers are saving and investing in defined contribution (DC) plans. This year’s version features data from nearly 100 plans covering three million eligible participants. It highlights the most common benchmarking statistics, including plan participation rates, savings rates, balances, investment and trading activity and distributions from accounts (e.g., loans, withdrawals, cash-outs and rollovers).

A volatile stock market combined with record inflation to shake people’s economic confidence. Yet 2022 wasn’t a lost year for workers in defined contribution plans. While plan balances, contribution rates and other key measures were trending in the wrong direction, trading activity remained basically the same as in prior years. Even more noteworthy, most participants resisted the temptation to make knee-jerk reactions when it came to their investments. With inflation rates falling and people continuing the return to pre-pandemic life, it will be interesting to see if workers return to saving at higher rates.

See the highlights below and download the full report for detailed insights on workers’ behaviors in DC plans.

As inflation soared, DC plan balances decreased.

The average plan balance fell from $144,280 at the beginning of the year to $111,210 by the end of the year.
The median plan balance was $23,818, the lowest value in over a decade.

Participation and contribution rates declined.

Average plan participation fell slightly, from 84% in 2021 to 83% in 2022.
The average contribution rate slipped from 8.6% to 8.3%.
Just 55% of former employees kept their assets in the plan in 2022, down from 61% in 2021.

Yet there was clearly a silver lining.

Loans remained at historically low levels, with fewer than 20% having an outstanding loan, compared to nearly 25% prior to 2020.
Only 3% of plan participants stopped contributing.
+ double
The number of people who increased contribution rates was more than double the number who decreased their savings.

Deeper insights by age, gender, tenure and industry are available by request.  

Looking for more insights from Alight’s Universe Benchmarks report?

Please fill out the form to download the latest observations.

*Required Fields


Related Insights

2024 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing

This report summarizes the findings of Alight’s annual survey highlighting the changes employers intend to make to their retirement and financial wellbeing plans for 2024.

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: October 2023 Observations

October trading was light with just one above-normal1 day, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™.

Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™: Q3 2023 Observations

401(k) investors sought stability in Q3, with net trading favoring fixed income funds on 39 of 63 days, according to the Alight Solutions 401(k) Index™.