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Pension Funds

Census Bureau: Public pension assets grow 2.2% in second quarter

Government and employee contributions both rise by more than 9% in the quarter

The 100 largest U.S. public employee retirement systems had $3.584 trillion in assets as of June 30, up 2.2% from three months earlier, said the U.S. Census Bureau's latest quarterly survey of public pension funds, released Thursday.

Assets were also up 8.5% from a year earlier, when public pension plan assets totaled $3.303 trillion.

Earnings on investments totaled $110.1 billion in the second quarter, compared with $140 billion in the first quarter and $57.2 billion in the second quarter of 2016.

Corporate stocks, which make up 36.2% of the pension funds' holdings, or $1.298 trillion, increased 2.8% from the end of the previous quarter and 8.1% year-over-year. Corporate bonds, which make up 11.7% of holdings, or $417.8 billion, increased 1.2% from the previous quarter but a year-over-year decrease of 1.8%.

International securities, which make up 20.3% of holdings, or $727.7 billion, rose 4.7% in the second quarter and a year-over-year increase of 17.5%.

Other holdings were federal government securities, at 8.4%; cash and short-term investments at 3.6%; mortgages at 0.2%; state/local government securities at 0.1%; and other securities at 19.5%.

Government contributions increased 9.4% in the second quarter, reaching $31.5 billion. The total was 14.1% higher than the contribution level in the second quarter of 2016.

Employee contributions increased 12.5% for the quarter, to $12.6 billion. The total was 6.8% higher than the contribution level in the second quarter of 2016.

The 100 public pension systems represent 88.4% of all U.S. public pension fund assets.

The survey is available on the Census Bureau's website.