A new, independent survey by American Investment Planners LLC indicates that more businesses are stopping the match on their 401(k) plans. AIP, which calls the data surprising, says that since 2009, the number of companies that make a 401(k) match has actually decreased by nearly 7%.

A growing number of wage-earners will have to create investment alternatives to build up their retirement nest eggs, AIP says. According to this week’s 401(k) Performance Survey, approximately 5% of 401(k) plans, or 13,811 plans, stopped matching in 2010, and an additional 2% halted the employer match in 2011.

“Clearly as businesses look for ways to lower expenses and improve bottom lines, it is not surprising that businesses have stopped matching,” says Barry Goldstein, director of retirement planning at AIP. “I have been studying this trend for the past four years and don't see the trend abating any time soon.”

In total, AIP says 42% of businesses did not match 401(k) contributions in 2011. Comparatively, the Plan Sponsor Council of America says that 81.6% of companies in its 2011 survey which offer 401(k) or combination plans provide some kind of match on funding.

“Not only are companies cutting the 401(k) match, but an almost equal percentage of companies are terminating their 401(k) plans.” Goldstein says. “Since 2009 approximately 6% of 401(k) plans have been terminated. To make matters worse, the number of traditional defined benefit pension plans decreased by 15% in 2011.”

The AIP further reports that the average 401(k) plan lost 2% of its value in 2011. “In my experience working with 401ks, most employees are unaware of the performance in their 401(k) and may not have realized that they lost money,” Goldstein adds.

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