The last private industry pension plans
January 03, 2013
Having sufficient income during retirement years is a concern for many Americans. In years past, many employers provided a pension plan—formally known as a defined benefit plan—that ensured periodic payments for the life of the retiree and his or her spouse. Such plans are becoming rare for workers in private industry. In 2011, only 18 percent of private industry employees were covered by defined benefit plans; coverage was 35 percent in the early 1990s.
|Years||Percent of employees|
Although most BLS data on benefits reflect the proportion of workers covered, data were added in recent years on the percentage of establishments offering a plan. Ten percent of private industry establishments offered a defined benefit pension plan to their employees in 2011. The number of employees in the establishment appears to be a key factor in whether an employer offers a defined benefit plan. Among establishments with fewer than 50 workers, 8 percent offered a defined benefit plan. In contrast, among establishments with 500 or more workers, 48 percent offered a plan.
|Number of employees in establishment||Percent of establishments|
1 to 49 employees
50 to 99 employees
100 to 499 employees
500 or more employees
These data are from the BLS National Compensation Survey — Benefits program. To learn more, see “The last private industry pension plans: a visual essay,” (HTML) (PDF) by William J. Wiatrowski, Monthly Labor Review, December 2012. A defined benefit plan provides employees with guaranteed retirement benefits that are based on a benefit formula. A participant’s retirement age, length of service, and preretirement earnings may affect the benefit received.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, The last private industry pension plans on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130103.htm (visited December 07, 2016).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
Workplace injuries and illnesses and employer costs for workers’ compensation
Workplace injury and illness data and the costs to employers for workers’ compensation in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
A look at the future of the U.S. labor force to 2060
Projected long-term trends in the growth, size, and composition of the labor force.
Union membership in the United States
Historical trends in union membership among employed wage and salary workers; union membership by a variety of demographic characteristics.
A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
Spending on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.
Self-employment in the United States
Trends in self-employment by various demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, including both the unincorporated and the incorporated self-employed, as well as data on paid employees who work for the self-employed.