The 100 largest U.S. public employee retirement systems had a combined $2.8 trillion in assets as of June 30, 1.3% higher than three months earlier and 17.6% higher than a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
The second-quarter asset total was the highest since the second quarter of 2008 and marked the seventh consecutive quarter with year-to-year increases and the fourth consecutive quarterly increase.
All major categories tracked by the Census Bureau — stocks, bonds, U.S. and international securities — saw overall gains over the same quarter in 2010, adding $414 billion to the systems’ holdings.
Stocks, which comprise 32% of all holdings, increased 19.5% from June 30, 2010, adding $145.3 billion, but stocks dipped 1.5% compared with March 30, for a loss of $13.6 billion.
Corporate bonds, which represent 15.8% of holdings, increased 2% for the quarter and 5.6% year-to-year, reaching $438.5 billion. That represented an asset increase of $8.5 billion for the quarter and $23.1 billion for the year.
International securities, at 18.9% of holdings, reached their highest level in terms of assets since the census included them in the survey eight years ago. Their year-to-year increase was 28.7%, an addition of $116.5 billion for the quarter.
Federal government securities, at 6.3% of all holdings, gained 1.5%, or $2.6 billion, over the quarter, but just 0.1% over the year.
Employer contributions, which rose 20.9% over the same quarter in 2010, offset a 3.2% decrease in employee contributions, resulting in a 12.1% overall increase in contributions. The contributions totaled $34.2 billion for the second quarter of 2011, up $3.7 billion from last year.
“The trend has been very positive, but funding is a marathon, not a sprint, so we try to not get too excited,” Keith Brainard, research director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, said in an interview.
The Census Bureau surveys the 100 largest state and local government retirement systems, as identified in the 2007 census. The systems, which are not identified, account for 89% of the cash and securities holdings of all public systems, but census officials caution that the survey is not a probability sample that can be used to infer distributions for all systems.