The Utilities Industry Has Experienced the Most Improvement in Retirement Preparedness Over Five Years

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2014 – Judy Diamond Associates, the 401k plan intelligence provider of leading financial advisors, brokers and fund companies, today released an analysis of national retirement preparedness by industry, revealing that 401k plans sponsored by the Utilities industry showed the greatest positive trends over the past five years.

“By looking at historical trends in plan performance, we saw that there were clear differences in how different industries are preparing their workers for retirement” said Eric Ryles, managing director of Judy Diamond Associates.  “Employees in the Utilities and Mining industries saw their plans improve more often than participants in other industries.”

Each of the 20 major industry classifications described by the North American Industrial Classification System were ranked on changes to their average account balances, participation rates, employee and employer contributions, their rates of return and the number of plan red flags over a five year period.  Red flags are indicators of weakness in plans and are available exclusively in Retirement Plan Prospector, Judy Diamond Associates’ 401k analysis and lead generation database.  The industries were ranked across each metric based on the ratio of plans that saw improvements in performance compared to the number of plans that saw  declines.  The individual rankings for each metric were then combined into a single, overall score for each industry and the industries were ranked accordingly.

Some interesting highlights from the research include:

  • When its ranks across all metrics are combined, the Utilities industry is the top performer.
  • 401k participation rates for all industries declined more often than they rose.
  • The trends toward decreasing employee and employer contributions were strongest in the Construction industry.
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, as a group, was ranked 19 out of 20 in participation rate, but finishedthird overall due to very high levels of employee and employer contributions, as well as solid plan design.
  • The Management of Companies and Enterprises industrial grouping saw the greatest ratio of 401k plans with increasing rates of return to plans with decreasing rates of return.

Overall ranks of improvement in retirement preparedness by industry:

Overall Rank Industry Name NAICS Industry Code Total Plans Analyzed
1 Utilities 22 1,832
2 Mining 21 3,073
3 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting 11 5,417
4 Management of Companies and Enterprises 55 1,760
5 Manufacturing 31-33 61,418
6 Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 71 6,301
7 Finance and Insurance 52 35,062
8 Public Administration 92 301
9 Educational Services 61 4,412
10 Wholesale Trade 42 28,549
11 Accommodation and Food Services 72 7,698
12 Transportation and Warehousing 48-49 10,577
13 Information 51 10,303
14 Other Services 81 27,234
15 Real Estate Rental and Leasing 53 13,879
16 Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services 56 12,576
17 Retail Trade 44-45 34,116
18 Construction 23 39,490
19 Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 54 112,988
20 Health Care and Social Assistance 62 100,391

Judy Diamond Associates based this research on the most recently available 401(k) plan disclosure documents released by the Department of Labor, which are available in its Retirement Plan Prospector database. Retirement Plan Prospector is an intuitive and comprehensive online sales prospecting and plan analysis tool, providing insights to the defined contribution and defined benefits markets.

For more information about this research, please contact us at or follow us on Twitter @401kFacts.

Media Contact
Regina Marie Glick
[email protected]

Sales Contact
Eric Ryles
[email protected]

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