New research from Aon Hewitt reveals that slightly more than three-quarters (75.8%) of eligible employees participated in their company’s defined contribution retirement plan last year, up from 73.7% in 2009 and 67.2% in 2005.

Great news, yes?

Aon Hewitt says the increased participation rate is due in large part to increased employer adoption of automatic enrollment programs, as among employees who are auto-enrolled, 85.3% participated in the plan, about 18 percentage points higher than those not subject to automatic enrollment.

Still great news? Maybe, maybe not.

Aon Hewitt also finds that while participation in plans is rising, employee contributions are not. In 2010, employee pretax contributions averaged 7.3% of pay, unchanged from 2009 and down from an average of 7.7% in 2007.

So, are employers’ efforts to help employees save for retirement actually hurting workers in the long run? Should employers be more focused on teaching employees to fish rather than giving fish, so to speak? An upcoming article of EBN will address these questions. Meantime, share your thoughts in the comments.

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