Most 401(k) Participants Have Very Small or Very Large Account Balances

It's common to have a balance below $10,000

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At the end of 2007, the average 401(k) account balance was $65,454 and the median (mid-point) account balance was $18,942. But these numbers obscure the fact that most 401(k) participants have either very small account balances under $10,000 or very large nest eggs over $100,000. Relatively few people have account balances between those two extremes. In fact, nearly three-quarters of 401(k) participants have account balances that are lower than $65,454 average account balance.

Percentage of 401(k) participants with account balances in specified ranges, 2007

Less than $10,000         39 percent

$10,000 to $20,000         12 percent

$20,000 to $30,000         8 percent

$30,000 to $40,000         6 percent

$40,000 to $50,000         4 percent

$50,000 to $60,000         4 percent

$60,000 to $70,000         3 percent

$70,000 to $80,000         2 percent

$80,000 to $90,000         2 percent

$90,000 to $100,000       2 percent

Over $100,000                 19 percent

Note: Percentages do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Investment Company Institute, 2007.

These numbers come from an Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute analysis of 21.8 million participants in 56,232 employer-sponsored 401(k) plans using data reflecting account balances at the end of 2007. So, these amounts have likely decreased among all income levels since then.

To see the typical 401(k) balance broken down by age and income level check out this recently updated tool.