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Bulletin Today | Money & Savings Print Print

Here’s some good news. 

Our retirement plan balances are rising, so maybe we actually can retire in relative comfort, provided we continue to save and save some more.

A Fidelity Investments analysis of 401(k) plans showed that the average balance rose to a record high at the end of last year  — $77,300. That’s up from $69,100, a 12 percent increase from one year earlier.

Workers 50-plus did even better. Here’s the average breakdown by age group as of the end of last year:

Ages 50 to 54: $111,900

Ages 55 to 59: $134,600

Ages 60 to 64: $133,100

Ages 65 to 69: $136,800

The higher balances in retirement plans last year were mostly due to a thriving market. Still, about one-third was from workers’ contributions into their plans, according to Fidelity. It looked at 20,500 workplace plans of 12 million participants.

[See also: How much do you need to retire?]

In another sign of the improving economy, workers increased the amount they socked away for the 15th straight quarter.

“It’s encouraging to see how continued savings combined with a healthy equity market have led to another record-high balance for 401(k) savers,” says James MacDonald, president, Workplace Investing, Fidelity Investments.

Workers on average save 8 percent of their annual salaries in their 401(k) plans. When the typical employer contribution was factored in, the savings rate increased to 12 percent, according to Fidelity.

While the $77,300 balance may not sound great, consider this: When the stock market hit bottom in the first quarter of 2009, the average 401(k) balance was $46,200.

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