The proportion of people in workplace pensions has fallen below half for the first time in at least 15 years, prompting calls for confidence in schemes to be rebuilt.
A “worrying landmark” of 48 per cent of employees are in schemes, compared with 55 per cent when the records began in 1997, Office for National Statistics figures showed.
Just a third of private company workers are in schemes, down from 47 per cent 10 years ago, compared with an 83 per cent membership rate for public sector employees.
However, participation should be approaching its “nadir”, analysts said, with automatic enrolment beginning this autumn to tackle the pension savings crisis.
A spokesman for the National Association of Pension Funds said the weak economy and falling confidence in financial products have spurred many private sector workers to quit pensions altogether.