Skip to main content

You are here

Money Matters in Maximizing the Match

The vast majority of middle-income workers with access to a workplace plan participate, but income plays a role in how many maximize the match.

The 2017 MassMutual Retirement Savings & Household Income Study found that 84% of workers with annual household incomes of between $35,000 and $150,000 save enough in their workplace retirement savings plan to receive the full employer match (8% aren’t sure), but that slips to two-thirds of those making $35,000 to $44,000 a year. However, nearly a quarter (23%!) in that income bracket aren’t sure.

Six in 10 study respondents say their employer matches retirement plan contributions, with little variation between income levels. The matches range from 2% of an employee’s salary to 7% or more, with 5% matches being the most prevalent at 21%, the study finds. The internet-based survey polled 1,010 workers with annual household incomes of between $35,000 and $150,000.

Overall, lower-income workers were twice as likely as their higher-income colleagues to skip saving in their employer’s retirement plan, according to the study. Among those who don’t save, income is again a big determinant. Seven in 10 respondents with less than $45,000 in household income said they can’t afford to save for retirement, compared to 23% of those earning $75,000 or more.

Other reasons for not saving were:

  • lack of a compelling employer match or no match (23%)

  • a preference to manage retirement savings outside an employer’s plan (14%)

  • wanting to save in an investment vehicle that provided greater accessibility to the money (14%)

Not surprisingly, higher-income savers were more likely to contribute a higher percentage of their income to a retirement savings plan than those with lower incomes; overall, nearly half (43%) of study respondents said they contribute at least 5% and as much as 9% of their income.


Those with incomes of $45,000 or more were three times more likely to save 15% or more of their income compared to those earning less than $45,000.