The state of public pension plans remained in the news last week with the release of three separate reports.
According to the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, public pension plans had an average funding ratio of 75.7% as of Dec. 31.
The funds returned an average 13.5% in 2010 and 8.2% for the 20-year period ended Dec. 31, according to a news release detailing preliminary findings of a NCPERS survey.
Eighty-three percent of the 216 survey respondents were from city and county public pension plans and 17% were from state public pension plans.
Using earlier data, the Pew Center on the States found state pension plans' aggregate funding ratio declined to 78% in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, dropping six percentage points from a year earlier.
Pew's report, “The Widening Gap: The Great Recession's Impact on State Pension and Retiree Health Care Costs,” shows that the public plans collectively held $2.28 trillion in assets and $2.94 trillion in liabilities for a shortfall of about $660 billion. The report included fiscal year 2010 data for 16 states.
The report notes that in 2010, at least 19 states took legislative action to reduce their liabilities.
And according to U.S. Census Bureau's data, state retirement systems lost a combined $641.3 billion in fiscal 2009, with a total of $2 trillion in assets as of June 30, 2009.
The 24% decline for the 12-month period followed a $152.2 billion loss in fiscal 2008, according to the Census Bureau's “2009 Annual Survey of Public Employee Retirement Systems.” Preliminary results of the survey of 222 state-administered public plans were released April 27.
The Census Bureau largely attributed the asset declines to a decrease in investment returns of $924.7 billion over the two fiscal years ended June 30, 2009 — $439.8 billion in 2008 and $484.9 billion in 2009.
According to the Census Bureau, total contributions to the state plans were $64.8 billion in 2009, with employee contributions increasing 5.4% to $33.3 billion.