The 401(k) match is back!

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter


New York (CNNMoney.com) -- Employees who took a hit on their savings last year might finally be in for some welcome news: Companies are stepping up efforts to help them save more for retirement.

Of companies that suspended or reduced 401(k) match programs, 80% planned to restore them this year, according to a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting firm.

Workers were dealt a double-blow during the recession, as historic stock market declines decimated retirement portfolios while companies slashed 401(k) matches to reduce costs.

"We viewed [the 401(k) suspensions] as a temporary measure needed to provide cash flow to companies," said Alison Borland, retirement strategy leader for Hewitt's outsourcing business, who expected only 50% of companies to restore the match in 2010. "We are relieved that this is reversing this quickly."

Large employers reinstating company matches for 2010 include American Express and FedEx.

The survey also found that employers are losing confidence in their employees' ability to save for retirement.

Of the 162 mid-to large-sized companies surveyed, 54% of employers said they were less confident, compared to 66% in 2009. Less than 18% of employers said they were "very confident" in their workers' ability to save enough.

As a result, companies said they are offering more investment services and tools to help workers navigate the maze of savings options. And the number of firms offering automatic enrollment, in which employees opt out of plans instead of signing up, has increased from 51% a year ago to 59%.

Although unemployment hovers at 9.7%, some experts say the restoration of the company match is a signal of employer confidence and may be a precursor to hiring.

"When companies start to restore the match, it gives employees more confidence and signals what the employer perceives as underlying strength in the market place," said Brigitte Madrian, a public policy professor at Harvard University. "We should be happy about this news."  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,086.63 -26.91 -0.16%
Nasdaq 4,473.70 17.68 0.40%
S&P 500 1,987.01 3.48 0.18%
Treasuries 2.46 -0.00 -0.08%
Data as of 6:51pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 97.19 2.47 2.61%
Facebook Inc 71.29 2.02 2.92%
Microsoft Corp 44.87 0.04 0.09%
EMC Corp 28.75 0.23 0.81%
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.00 0.00%
Data as of 4:01pm ET

Sections

General Motors recalls another 718,000 U.S. cars to deal with variety of problems including seat height adjustments, welds and power steering. More

With cost-cutting at the U.S. Postal Service more letter carriers are working later and later to deliver your mail. About 38% of mail is delivered after 5 p.m. in cities nationwide. And areas like Atlanta, Washington and South Florida, it's 70%. More

As 65,000 IDF reservists are tapped to serve in Gaza, Israeli's tech community tries to maintain business as usual, amidst bombs, sirens and employees called to war. More

Chinese buyers are now the biggest international players in the U.S. housing market and some states are seeing billions of dollars in real estate deals as a result. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.