New 401(k) loan transactions were down approximately 5% year-over-year, and total hardship and in-service withdrawals were down nearly 8%, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s most recent 401(k) Wellness Scorecard, released Thursday.

“Loans and withdrawals dramatically spiked in 2009, 2010 and even in 2011 they somewhat moderated but were still up,” said Kevin Crain, head of institutional retirement and benefits services with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, during an interview at ASPPA’s 401(k) Summit this week. “We now see in 2012, on a year-over-year basis, for the first time in many years, the loans and withdrawals have decreased. Not dramatically, but enough to say ‘could that tide have turned?’”

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