ConocoPhillips Co. has the best 401(k) plan for workers, while Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc. offer some of the worst, according to a Bloomberg News survey of the 250 largest public companies in the country.
In fact, ConocoPhillips' plan is so generous - contributing 9 percent of workers' pay if workers kick in 1 percent - that after 35 years an employee can end up a multimillionaire, Bloomberg said. According to the Houston-based oil and gas producer's own figures, a worker with a starting salary of $75,000 and raises of 4 percent a year could retire at age 60 with $3.8 million. Not bad.
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In comparison, Facebook - which finished last in the Bloomberg survey - only started offering a match of up to 3.5 percent of pay in April, retroactive to January. Whole Foods' match maxes out at $152 a year. (The grocer countered that its employees pay little or no premiums for health insurance.) And Amazon requires employees to work three years before they are allowed to keep the 2 percent employer match.
Bloomberg ranked 401(k)s based largely on the size of the employer match. Companies improved their scores if they contributed above and beyond the match - as Conoco does - and if they offered low-cost index funds and immediate vesting, meaning workers can keep the employer contributions right away without having to wait.
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With workers' retirements increasingly dependent on how much they can save in their 401(k)s, they need to pay attention to these benefits offered by employers. The Bloomberg survey and other tools, such as the AARP 401(k) calculator, can make it easier for workers to compare employer offerings. More tools, including a social security calculator, can be found here.
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