The funding status of state retirement systems improved to 83% in 2004 from 77% in 2003, as total assets grew at a faster pace than liabilities, according to a Wilshire Associates report. Assets of the 64 state plans that submitted 2004 data to Wilshire increased to a total of $778.9 billion from $681.7 billion, while liabilities rose to a combined $942.3 billion from $889.4 billion. Overall, the funding shortfall for the 64 plans decreased to a total of $163.4 billion in 2004 from $207.7 billion in 2003.
The asset shortfall for state retirement systems is worse than corporate pension plan underfunding and similar to that of city and county retirement systems, according to the report. As of Dec. 31, 2003, defined benefit assets for S&P 500 companies totaled $1.03 trillion, compared with pension liabilities of $1.15 trillion, for a total funding ratio of 89.1%. As of June 30, 2003, city and county pension assets totaled $148.6 billion, compared with liabilities of $179.2 billion, for a total funding ratio of 83.2%.