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Average employer 401(k) match revealed: How generous — or stingy — is your company?

Jennifer Earl

Is your company being stingy when it comes to supporting your future?

If your employer is contributing less than 4.7 percent toward your 401(k), then you have your answer. According to a new report from Fidelity, that's the average 401(k) match companies were handing out in the first quarter of 2019.

That contribution rate, a record high, bumped the "average total savings rate (employee contributions + company match) to an all-time high of 13.5 percent in the first quarter," the financial services company said.

On top of that, contributions to 403(b) tax-exempt retirement accounts also increased to record-high levels this year, the group said.

401(k) plans, unlike traditional pensions, are retirement plans in which employees contribute a percentage of their earnings (pre-tax) into an account that companies often contribute to via a matching amount (to a certain percentage). But the 401(k) can suffer (or enjoy) the benefits of the market, depending on the market’s volatility.

If your company offers a generous matching program, then you could even become a millionaire if you manage your time and money right.

“[401(k)s are] a large piece of your compensation,” Joshua Gotbaum, a guest scholar in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, told Money earlier this week, noting that a company that doesn't offer any matching could result in the loss of thousands of dollars during your time there.

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The number of 401(k) accounts with a $1 million balance jumped to 180,000 from 133,800 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018. In the first quarter of 2019, the average retirement account balance totaled $103,700 — an $8,100 increase from the previous quarter. However, it's worth noting balances vary greatly depending on age.

The inventor of the 401(k), Ted Benna, urged workers to start saving early.

“There are people who make tons of money who don’t become successful at saving, and then there are others, surprisingly, who shock the heck out of me — they don’t make big bucks but they have substantial savings,” Benna said at a May event run by The Wall Street Journal. “The key is learning early in life what you’re going to be."

Fox Business' Matt Richardson contributed to this report.

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