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77 percent of private industry workers offered retirement benefits participated in them in 2019

September 23, 2019

In March 2019, 77 percent of private industry workers who had access to employer-provided retirement benefits chose to participate in those benefits. This measure is known as the take-up rate. Retirement benefits include defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

Percentage of private industry workers who had access to and participated in employer-provided retirement benefits, March 2019

Worker characteristics



Take-up rate

All workers

67% 52% 77%

Management, professional, and related occupations

84 72 86

Service occupations

43 25 58

Sales and office occupations

72 54 74

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

61 47 76

Production, transportation, and material moving occupations

72 55 77

Establishments with 1 to 99 workers

54 38 71

Establishments with 100 to 499 workers

80 61 76

Establishments with 500 or more workers

89 78 88

Wages in lowest 25 percent

43 23 54

Wages in second 25 percent

67 49 73

Wages in third 25 percent

80 66 82

Wages in highest 25 percent

87 77 89

Members of union

91 82 90

Not members of union

65 49 75

Full-time workers

77 61 80

Part-time workers

39 22 57

Note: The take-up rate is the percentage of workers with access to retirement benefits who participated in such benefits.

Among the major occupational groups, the take-up rates for retirement benefits among private industry workers ranged from 58 percent for service occupations to 86 percent for management, professional, and related occupations. Take-up rates were higher for workers in larger establishments (88 percent in those with 500 or more workers) than for workers in smaller establishments (71 percent in those with 1 to 99 workers). For workers who were members of a union, the take-up rate was 90 percent, compared with 75 percent for nonunion workers. Among full-time workers, the take-up rate was 80 percent, compared with 57 percent for part-time workers.

These data are from the National Compensation Survey — Benefits program. For more information, see “Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2019” and our glossary of employee benefit terms.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, 77 percent of private industry workers offered retirement benefits participated in them in 2019 at (visited June 20, 2024).

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