Large corporate pension plan funding improved last year, despite significant increases in liabilities, because of $72 billion in company contributions and stronger investment returns, according to a Watson Wyatt report. The funded status of large company plans was an average 88% in 2003, up from 82% in 2002. Liabilities increased in 2003 by nearly $125 billion, or about 11%, but assets were up $172.4 billion, or about 18%, from the previous year.
The analysis was based on the annual reports of the 622 of the nation's 1,000 largest companies that have defined benefit plans. Watson Wyatt estimates that those companies will contribute another $40 billion to their pension plans in 2004