Stocks and bonds have had a volatile, downward performance this year in an economy characterized by high inflation and high interest rates. But that hasn’t deterred most retired savers, especially young ones.
401(k) participants have maintained relative stability in their savings contribution rates and in their portfolio allocations, according to new third-quarter data from Fidelity Investments. GenZers have already increased their contributions.
By the end of the third quarter, the S&P 500 was down 25% for the year. The Nasdaq was down 33%. The S&P Total US Bond Index fell about 13%.
So it’s no surprise that the average 401(k) account balance fell to $97,200 in the third quarter, according to Fidelity, one of the leading providers of workplace retirement plans in the country. This is a decrease of 6% from the second quarter and 23% from the previous year.
But Meanwhile, the average savings rate among 401(k) participants has remained relatively steady at 13.8%, which includes contributions from employees and employers. This is down from the 13.9% recorded in the second quarter and the 14% recorded in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, GenZers in the workplace — those between the ages of 22 and 25 — have increased their savings levels from 10% to 10.3%. This may be why today’s younger generation of employees saw their account balances increase by 1.2% compared to the second quarter, despite the poor market performance.
In terms of gender differences, men save slightly more than women (14.5% vs. 13.5%). And in terms of age, newborns who were on the cusp of retirement saved the most (16.5%).
And Fidelity found that benefits have remained fairly flat, with only 4.5% of 401(k) and 403(b) plan participants choosing to make a change in the third quarter. The majority of those made just one change, and only 29% of them chose a more conservative investment.
Despite the volatility in the markets and the economy this year, “retirement savers have wisely chosen to avoid drama and continue to make smart choices for the long term,” said Kevin Barry, head of workplace investing at Fidelity Investments.