Only 17 Fortune 100 Companies Still Offer Defined Benefit Retirement Plans


The campaign to end defined benefit plans for government employees has bogged down from Sacramento to Washington D.C. But in the increasingly Brigadoon-like "private sector," DB plans have all but vanished.  Of the biggest companies in America, only 17 have yet to switch over to 401(k) or hybrid plans.

What waistcoat-wearing, pipe-smoking corporate sugar daddies are still offering total retirement packages? An oldy from TheStreet.com discusses the large companies that have yet to emerge from the Paternal Age:

A survey by Towers Watson, the global consulting firm, found that only 17% of Fortune 100 companies still offer a direct-benefit plan, down from 67% in 1998. Those that offer direct-contribution plans, such as 401(k)'s, total 58%, up from 10%. Despite the decline, many of the country's best-known companies still offer pensions to at least some employees.

General Electric(GE), in its annual report, said its plan was fully funded as of Jan. 1 and running effectively enough that it shouldn't have to subsidize it this year or next. It holds assets of $58.3 billion.

Responding to stock-market conditions, Exxon Mobil(XOM) contributed $3 billion to its U.S. plans, up from $53 million in 2008.

Other large direct-benefit plans include AT&T(T), Verizon(VZ), Ford(F), Lockheed Martin(LMT), UPS(UPS), Honeywell(HON), Johnson & Johnson(JNJ), Procter & Gamble(PG), Hewlett-Packard(HPQ), 3M(MMM), Pepsi(PEP), Bank of America(BAC), Citigroup(C) and Wachovia.

Here's the Towers Watson survey [pdf]. The composition of the Fortune 100 changes over time—only 31 companies of the companies on the list in 1985 (when 89 out of the 100 offered straight DB plans) are still there today. (Of those 31, 16 still offer DB plans.) But even controlling for those changes, the shift away from DB plans is clear. (And the fact that your DB-offering company has slipped out of the Fortune 100 is itself an indication that DB-offering companies are in eclipse.)

This is a major generational shift in free market employment. And it's a shift that government employees have not even begun to confront. It's like going to work for the government automatically turns you into a baby boomer.