Updated with correction, Oct. 5, 2011
The funding ratio of S&P 1500 companies' defined benefit plans fell seven percentage points in September, to 72%, with the overall funding deficit increasing to $512 billion, according to Mercer.
The deficit is the largest since Mercer began tracking the information in December 2007, Jonathan Barry, a partner in Mercer's retirement risk and finance business, said in a telephone interview.
The previous record deficit was $507 billion in August 2010.
The September decline was attributed to a 7% drop in equities and a 30- to 40-basis-point drop in discount rates.
“Unfortunately, it's kind of the same story for the last several months,” Mr. Barry said.
The estimated aggregate pension plan assets of the S&P 1500 were $1.31 trillion as of Sept. 30, with estimated aggregate liabilities of $1.83 trillion.