Census Bureau: Top 100 public plans’ assets drop 1.7% in Q2

The 100 largest public employee retirement systems had a combined $2.7 trillion in assets as of June 30, down 1.7% from three months earlier and 2.1% below the same date in 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.

The 100 plans have 89.4% of total public employee pension assets, according to the Census Bureau.

Although most asset classes saw decreases, federal government securities reached the highest level in 10 years at the end of the second quarter, increasing 8.8% to $244.2 billion. The 12-month increase for government securities, which make up 9% of total assets, was 34.2%.

Part of the increase was due to an asset-classification change, said Erika Becker-Medina, chief of the bureau's employment and benefits statistics branch. Beginning with the Q1 report, federally sponsored agency securities were moved from the “corporate bond” category into “federal government securities,” and private equity, venture capital, and leveraged buyouts went from “other securities” to the “corporate stocks” category.

Among other asset classes, corporate stocks, which account for 34.8% of assets, decreased 3.1% to $944.7 billion in the quarter, while corporate bonds, at 13.5% of assets, fell 1.1% to $366.7 billion. Year over year, stocks rose 3.9% and bonds decreased 15.6%.

International securities, which make up 18.7% of assets, decreased 7.9% over the previous quarter and 3.1% over 12 months, to $507.2 billion.

Government contributions to the plans in the survey totaled $21.4 billion, an 11.5% decrease from the previous quarter and down 4.9% for the year. Employee contributions increased 10.7% in the quarter to $10.3 billion, which was down 5.7% from June 30, 2011. The ratio of government contributions to employee contributions was 2.1 to 1, or 67.5% to 32.5% of total contributions.