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April, 1987, Vol. 110, No. 4
Trends in retirement eligibility
and pension benefits, 1974-83
Reduced age requirements for retirement and improved pension payments emerged as major changes between 1974 and 1983 in a sample of pension plans analyzed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A group of 187 pension plans either fully or partially paid for by employers was studied. The plans covered approximately 6.7 million workers in 1982, and were mainly those of large employers.1 Eighty-seven percent of the pension plans studied covered 5,000 workers or more in 1982, with 33 percent covering at least 25,000 workers.
The plans were all those common to two BLS sample surveys: (1) a 1974 survey of pension plans whose provisions were filed with the U.S. Department of Labor under the terms of the Welfare and Pension Plan Disclosure Act of 1958, as amended; and (2) the 1983 Employee Benefits Survey of medium and large firms.2 Although the plans in this analysis are not a representative sample of all pension plans, they do cover a large number of union and nonunion workers and illustrate the changing provisions for retirement during the 1974-83 period.
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1 1982 was the last year in which participation data were available for most plans from the files of the Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.2 The latter study is part of a series of annual surveys conducted in private sector establishments employing at least 50, 100, or 250 workers, depending on the industry. Industrial coverage included: mining; construction; manufacturing; transportation, communications, electric, gas, and sanitary services; wholesale trade; retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; and selected services. Findings for 1983 are reported in Employee Benefits in Medium and Large Firms, 1983, Bulletin 2213 (Bureau of Labor statistics, 1984). For information on the background and conduct of the survey, see Robert Frumkin and William Wiatrowski, "Bureau of Labor Statistics takes a new look at employee benefits," Monthly Labor Review, August 1982, pp. 41-45.
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