More workers now opt for pension plans

With the projected Social Security shortfall, concern is growing over how well workers are preparing for retirement. "Whether an individual will outlive his or her assets has become more of a function of the decisions that individual makes," said Dallas Salisbury, president of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonprofit group.

According to the most recent EBRI study, a growing number of workers participate in employer-sponsored pension plans, though the percentage of eligible workers who don't participate has also increased, especially among some minority groups. The most striking findings of the report:

• In February 2001, 67.8 percent of workers age 21 to 64 worked for an employer with a pension plan, up 4.6 percent from 1995. And 54.8 percent participated in such a plan, up 3.8 percent.

• While the percentage of workers who said they didn't participate in a plan because of ineligibility decreased from 1995 to 2001, the percentage of workers who chose not to participate in a plan jumped from 25 percent to 31 percent.

• In 2001, 71.1 percent of whites worked for an employer with a pension plan, compared with 47.2 percent of Hispanics. And while the percentage of workers participating in plans rose across all demographic groups, the increases were smaller for blacks and Hispanics.

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