After Congress passed legislation in 2006 to make it easier for businesses to auto-enroll new employees in their companies' 401(k) defined-contribution plans,  the overall participation rate has gone up to 75.8 percent from 67.2 percent in 2005, according to a study to Aon Hewitt Inc.

Though 60 percent of the 120 companies analyzed are now offering auto-enrollment, up from just 24 percent in 2006, the contribution level by employees has dropped somewhat, standing at 7.3 percent of pay as compared to 7.7 percent in 2007. Among employees subject to automatic enrollment, 85.3 percent contribute to their 401(k) plans, some 18 percentage points higher than those not subject to auto-enrollment.

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