Despite the doom and gloom news dominating headlines today, worker's participation in employer-based retirement programs grew steadily in 2007, up for the first time since 1998. Data released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) states that 41.5% of all workers participate in employer sponsored plans, while the percentage of full-time and full-year salaried earners hovers at 55.5%.

The EBRI study includes these points about retirement plan participation:

· Age: Participation increases with age (63.9 percent for wage and salary workers ages 55-64, compared with 28.0 percent for those ages 21-24).

· Gender: Among all workers, men had a higher participation level than women, but among full-time, full-year workers, women had a higher percentage participating than men (57.0 percent for women, compared with 54.0 percent for men). Female workers´ lower probability of participation in the aggregate results from their overall lower earnings and lower rates of full-time work in comparison with males.

· Race: Hispanic wage and salary workers were significantly less likely than both white and black workers to participate in a retirement plan. The gap between the percentages of black and white plan participants narrows when compared across earnings levels.

· Geography: Wage and salary workers in the South, West, and Southwest had the lowest participation levels in 2007.

· Other factors: Higher-educated, higher-income, and married workers are more likely to participate in a plan than their counterparts.

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