Since 1987, investment earnings have been the primary source of revenue for public pension plans, according to data compiled by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators through 2016. During that period, employers have contributed 26.5% and employees have added about 12%.
Employee contributions have increased in recent years as plan sponsors have looked to shift some of the plan risk to the employee while also increasing the amount they contribute. Data collected by Pensions & Investments found that in 2016 among the 100 largest public plans, both employers and employees added about 6.4% of 2015 year-end assets to their respective plans. The average plan return over that period was 2.7%. Plan funding is and will continue to be an area of concern for plans as asset returns are expected to be low over the foreseeable future as reflected by declining plan return expectations. Further compounding concerns are declining ratios of active to retired plan participants.