Americans’ Retirement Benefits Have Been Slashed by a Quarter

Americans are more worried about retirement, and they’re getting less help saving for it.

Employers cut their contributions to workers’ retirements by a quarter from 2001 to 2015, according to a new report by the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. The biggest driver: the decline of traditional defined-benefit pensions, replaced by stingier, 401(k)-style, defined-contribution plans.

Retirement benefits—including employer contributions to pensions, 401(k)s and retiree health-care benefits—fell from 9.1 percent of worker pay in 2001 to 6.8 percent in 2015. Spending on traditional pensions plunged 76 percent, to less than 1 percent of worker pay. Medical benefits for retired workers became increasingly scant, falling from 1.2 percent of worker pay to just 0.2 percent.

The good news is that many companies, while shutting down or freezing pension plans, have sweetened their 401(k) matching contributions. Some large employers, eager to recruit top job candidates in such hot areas as technology, have boosted benefits, as the Wall Street Journal reported on

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