Investment earnings for state-run defined benefit pension systems were $91.8 billion in 2012, the third straight year in the black. However, total cash and investment assets in 2012 were $2.52 trillion, a dip of 1% from 2011, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released Thursday.
The 2012 investment gains were slower than those realized in 2010 and 2011, when the systems earned $291.1 billion and $414 billion, respectively.
In 2012, investment earnings represented 45.2% of state revenue.
Of the systems’ total investment assets, 55% were in equities — 37.1% domestic and 17.9% international. Domestic stocks increased 8.4% in 2012 to $934.6 billion and international increased 0.2% to $450.7 billion.
Census officials cautioned against making comparisons with prior years because of changes to asset classifications for the 2012 survey. For 2012, private equity, venture capital and leveraged buyouts were classified under corporate stocks; they previously classified “other securities.”
Corporate bonds, which accounted for 12.5% of holdings, decreased 12.3% to $315.7 billion from 2011 levels. Governmental securities, which accounted for 10% of holdings, increased 26.2% to $252.9 billion.
Other assets were real property at 4.2% of holdings, cash and short-term investments at 3.7%, and miscellaneous investments such as mortgages and trusts, at 14.6%
Five states held 44% of all investment assets: California, with $430.2 billion; New York, $236.9 billion; Texas, $170.7 billion; Ohio, $146 billion; and Florida, $127.1 billion.
Total contributions for state-administered pensions systems increased 4.9%, to $111.1 billion. Employee contributions increased 5.6% to $36 billion, while government contributions increased 4.6% to $75.1 billion.
Pension benefit payments also grew in 2012, increasing 4.3% from 2011, while other payments, including administrative and investment fees, dropped 2% to $8.3 billion.
Participation in state pension systems increased a slight 0.3% to 17.5 million participants.
The 2012 Census of Governments: Finances — Survey of Public Pensions covers 227 state government pension systems with defined benefit plans.
Compared with the last survey of public pensions conducted in 2007, total assets were down 9.1% from 2007 to 2012.