Retirement Account Statistics 2024

There are $38.4 trillion in total U.S. retirement assets. Here are the key retirement statistics to know.
Dayana Yochim
By Dayana Yochim 
Edited by Pamela de la Fuente

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Americans had $7.4 trillion invested in 401(k)s and $13.6 trillion in IRAs in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the Investment Company Institute

Investment Company Institute. Release: Quarterly Retirement Market Data. Accessed Apr 4, 2024.

If your retirement savings is a portion of one of those totals, you may have wondered how your plan — and the investment choices you have within it — compares. Let’s take a look.

Average 401(k) employee contribution: 7.4%

The average annual employee 401(k) contribution was 7.4% of pay in 2022, according to the most recent data available from Vanguard, one of the largest retirement account recordkeepers

Vanguard. How America Saves 2023. Accessed Apr 4, 2024.
. The IRS sets the bar for contributions pretty high: The 401(k) contribution limit for employees is $23,000 in 2024. Those 50 and older are allowed to save up to $30,500 in 2024.

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Average 401(k) employer contribution: 4.5%

Probably the best feature of 401(k) plans is the employer contribution — aka free money — typically provided by matching a portion of what employees save. There’s a dizzying array of formulas companies use to determine how much of your contributions they’ll match. The most common formula, according to Vanguard’s 2023 How America Saves report, is 50% of every dollar an employee contributes, up to 6% of their salary.

The more telling number is the value of the match. That figure — according to Vanguard — is 4.5% of pay on average per year.

The average total participant contribution rate, combining employer and employee contributions, was 13.9% in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to Fidelity. That’s right on target, considering experts recommend saving 12% to 15% of your salary for retirement.

Number of 401(k) investment choices: 27.2

The average plan at Vanguard offered 27.2 investment choices in 2022. But some other plans may provide half that. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) said most plans provide at least three options, most commonly mutual funds that offer exposure to domestic and international stocks, bonds, and money market funds

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Retirement Accounts. Accessed Apr 4, 2024.

Fidelity, another leading investment company, says 94.3% of its plan participants default to using target-date mutual funds as of the third quarter of 2023

. Known as a “set it and forget it” retirement investment, target-date funds include a mix of investments that automatically rebalance as you get closer to retirement.


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Average annual 401(k) return: 4.9%

Many variables determine a 401(k)’s return, including the investments you choose, stock market performance and 401(k) fees.

Those variables make it hard to land on an average 401(k) return, but Vanguard gives us a general snapshot based on the five years ending in December 2022: Rocky bond and equities markets dragged down returns in 2022, but strong stock market returns and plan contributions helped level things out, and the average annual return for those enrolled all five years was 4.9%.

Average 401(k) fees: 0.83%

You might not know it, but if you have a 401(k), you are definitely paying 401(k) fees — .83% of assets, according to the BrightScope/ICI Defined Contribution Plan Profile


Generally, the larger the plan, the lower the fees. Your plan is required to send you a quarterly fee disclosure statement. If you don’t like what you see, consider investing just enough money in your 401(k) to get the company match for the year. Then contribute any additional retirement savings to an IRA, where you have much more control over costs and investment choices.

Average 401(k) balance: $118,600

You skipped all that stuff above to scroll down to this number, didn’t you? No judgment from us: Financial rubbernecking is a beloved pastime.

Without further ado, the average 401(k) balance at Fidelity in the fourth quarter of 2023 was $118,600.

» MORE: See our breakdown of the average 401(k) balance by age

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Portion of plans that offer a Roth 401(k): 90.4%

The Roth 401(k) is a mashup of a 401(k) and a Roth IRA, an individual retirement account you fund with post-tax dollars in exchange for tax-free investment growth and withdrawals in retirement.

At Fidelity, the number of plans offering a Roth option has grown, and 90.4% of its plans now offer a Roth 401(k).

Although you don’t get a tax deduction on your contributions as you do in a traditional 401(k), there’s a lot to like about a Roth 401(k), including the fact that it has larger contribution limits than a Roth IRA and is a convenient workaround for those who earn too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, which has income limits for eligibility.

Average IRA balance: $116,600

According to Fidelity, the average IRA balance was $116,600 in the fourth quarter of 2023. The plan provider said it has 15 million IRAs, a 10.9% year-over-year increase


Number of Roth IRAs

Of those 15 million IRAs, 64% of all IRA contributions went to Roth accounts.

Average IRA contribution: $4,000

The IRS allows investors under 50 to contribute up to $7,000 per year to IRAs ($8,000 for those 50-plus) in 2024.


The average contribution was flat year over year, according to Fidelity. In the fourth quarter of 2023, the average IRA contribution was $4,000, equal to the fourth quarter of 2022


All of this retirement account talk is only worthwhile if it inspires you to look more closely at your own savings. Ultimately, it’s all about answering one key question: Am I saving enough, and in the right accounts?

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