The assets of the 100 largest public employee retirement systems rose 5.6%, or $146.9 billion, in the first quarter, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
The 100 largest public pension plans, which comprise 89.4% of total public plan assets, had total assets of $2.8 trillion in the quarter.
Erika Becker-Medina, chief of the bureau’s employment and benefits statistics branch, cautioned against comparing some asset class results with their previous quarterly or annual performance because the Census Bureau changed some classifications in this latest survey. Federally sponsored agency securities were moved into “federal government securities” from the “corporate bond” category, and private equity, venture capital and leveraged buyouts went to the “corporate stocks” category from “other securities.”
Holdings in corporate stocks, which account for 35.1% of assets, gained 17.6% to $967.2 billion in the first quarter, in part because of the reclassification. Corporate bonds, at 13.5% of assets, fell to their lowest level since 2006, losing 6.9% to $371.9 billion.
International securities, which comprise 19.9% of assets, rose 16.3% over the previous quarter, to $550 billion. Federal government securities, at 8.1% of assets, reached their highest level in 10 years, up 25% over the previous quarter to $223.5 billion. Part of the increase was due to the asset classification change, Ms. Becker-Medina said in an interview.
Government contributions to the plans in the survey increased 12.7% over the previous quarter and 14.5% year-to-year, reaching $24.2 billion. Employee contributions increased 1.5% in the quarter, and 7.9% year-to-year.