Overall, 2.2 percent of participants withdrew from their accounts in the first half of 2015, a proportion that has remained relatively flat since the first half of 2009.
Hardship withdrawals stood at 0.9 percent in the first half of 2015, a rate that has also been flat since 2009.
The vast majority of participants are continuing to contribute to their plans. Only 1.8 percent of participants stopped contributing to accounts in the first half of 2015, compared to 2.1 percent the first half of 2014. In the first half of 2009, 4.6 percent of participants stopped contributing to plans, a direct result of the financial crisis.
The ICI report speculates that in some cases participants stop contributing to plans because they reach their annual contribution limit early in the year.
Investment activity, which tracks how often participants reallocate their accounts, has been relatively in-line for the seven-year period beginning in 2009.
About 6.6 percent of participants changed allocation for the first half of 2015, exactly even with the previous year. But that data does not account for the extreme market turbulence in August, when service providers report fielding record levels of inquiries from participants through call centers.
Equities gained 1.2 percent in the first half of the year, as recorded by the S&P 500 total return index. The second half of 2010 saw a 23.3 percent return, and the second half of 2009 saw a 22.6 percent gain in participants’ equity investments.
All told, 28 percent of U.S. retirement assets are in defined contribution plans, or $6.8 trillion of a total $24.8 trillion.