Pension fund liabilities outpaced assets by 4.28% in the first quarter, according to Ryan Labs' March report. Liabilities grew by a cumulative 47.6% over assets for the five years ended March 31, indicating funding ratios lower than 70% for most pension funds. According to a separate report, most of the nation's 100 largest corporate pension funds had an overall deficit in 2003, even though together they earned $69.9 billion more than the average 8.55% assumed rate of return, according to Milliman USA. Overall, the 100 companies, which have total assets of $880 billion, reduced their deficits by $43.2 billion in 2003 to attain a funding level of 88.5%, up slightly from 82.3% in 2002. In contrast, the largest 100 companies reported pension surpluses in 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2003, 19 of the largest 100 corporations had pension surpluses, compared with 12 with surpluses in 2002; but another 19 companies reported that their pension deficits grew last year.