How America Saves update considers COVID-19 impact

June 10, 2020

A/AText size:AAA

Despite market volatility and general uncertainty sparked by COVID-19, the behavior of the vast majority of retirement plan participants during the first four months of 2020 remained largely unchanged from previous years, according to How America Saves 2020: An Update.

Read PDF pdf

The update joins How America Saves: Insights to Action as new supplements to How America Saves 2020, the 19th edition of our definitive, annual report. Insights to Action surfaces six key themes from How America Saves data and recommends actions plan sponsors can take to optimize their plan design.

How America Saves 2020: An Update was created in recognition of how dramatically the landscape has shifted in early 2020 compared with 2019. The update considers those shifts in relation to How America Saves 2020 findings, which are based on the prior year’s data from 5 million DC plan participants across our recordkeeping business.

What we found was that most participants have been resilient and are taking a long-term approach to investing. They represent a patient pool of long-term savings in the financial markets.

An example: For the 12 months ended April 30, 2020, median account balances of continuous participants—those with an account balance in both April 2019 and April 2020—increased by 5.0% while average total returns dropped 1.6%.

Also during the first four months of 2020:

  • Participation and deferral rates remained steady.
  • Nearly 95% of participants did not initiate a trade, although participant trading was up slightly.
  • Loan issuances declined, as did both hardship and nonhardship withdrawals.

While a small percentage of participants accessed their retirement savings through provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the vast majority of participants have not, even during these difficult times.

You can view the entire update, How America Saves 2020, and How America Saves 2020: Insight to Action, here.


  • All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.