U.S. retirement savings rate held steady – Fidelity

* 401(k) savings steady at 8.2 percent in 2009

* Rallying stocks helped boost overall account balances

BOSTON, Feb 17 (BestGrowthStock) – Americans kept their retirement
savings rates steady in 2009 as the economy recovered slowly
and a rallying stock market helped boost the overall value of
their accounts, a study released on Wednesday shows.

Mutual fund firm Fidelity Investments, which conducts
retirement readiness research every quarter, reported that
Americans put 8.2 percent of their pre-tax income into employer
sponsored 401(k) retirement savings plans last year.

The rate was steady through all four quarters of 2009 but
down slightly from previous years as the financial crisis cost
millions of Americans their jobs and homes and prompted many to
remove money from their retirement nest-eggs to pay bills.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, Fidelity said investors
saved 8.4 percent while their deferral rate stood at 8.8
percent during the same period of 2007.

“The good news is that many workers, in spite of the
economy, chose to save in their 401(k)s throughout 2009, and as
the markets recovered, so did many Americans’ account
balances,” Jim MacDonald, president of Workplace Investing at
Fidelity, said in a statement.

In 2008 Fidelity reported that higher gasoline and food
prices prompted more Americans to pull money from their
retirement savings plans.

Boston-based Fidelity found that rising stock prices helped
the average U.S. employer-sponsored retirement plan grow by 28
percent to $64,200 last year. In 2009 the Standard & Poor’s 500
index (.SPX: ) gained 26 percent.

Last year’s gain followed the financial crisis when
tumbling stock prices took a huge bite out many retirement
accounts.

Fidelity also reported that steady contributions to these
savings plans paid off during the last decade.

The company said workers who had saved steadily throughout
the last decade would have seen their average balances climb
some 150 percent.

Participants had a median age of 51 years and a 10.4
percent deferral rate.

Money

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard
Chang)

U.S. retirement savings rate held steady – Fidelity