The extended bull market in stocks has helped restore IRA and 401(k) account balances hit record highs for the third consecutive quarter, according to Fidelity Investments. Also helping boost balances, of course, are higher contributions from employers and employees.
Employees put a record average of $5,850 into their 401(k)s over the past 12 months, a 4 percent increase from a year ago. Ninety-five percent of active employees contribute to their 401(k)s, and many defer enough of their pre-tax salary to get the average company match, which is 4.5 percent. But about 21 percent of employees can’t, or aren’t, contributing enough to get the full match. Many are likely to have been auto-enrolled into their 401(k) at a salary deferral rate of 3 percent, and left it there.