U.S. state pension plans' aggregate funding ratio was 81.3% in the quarter ended March 31, according to Wilshire Consulting estimates.
It represents an estimated 2 percentage-point increase from a quarter earlier, and an 18 percentage point increase from March 31, 2020, when disastrous market returns resulting from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the ratio down to its lowest point in 30 years.
The quarterly change was the result of a 3.3% increase in asset values and 0.8% increase in liability values, according to Wilshire.
"The first quarter's increase in funded ratio capped an unprecedented trailing 12-month asset returns with the Wilshire 5000 Total Market index up over 60% over this period," said Ned McGuire, managing director at Wilshire Consulting, in a news release "The funded ratio, as of the end of the first quarter, is at its highest level since Wilshire has been aggregating data for state pension plans on a quarterly basis and since Wilshire's 2007 state funding study on an annual basis."
The study's assumed asset allocation of U.S. state pension plans is 30% domestic equities, 22% core fixed income, 18% international equities, 12% real assets and 9% each high-yield fixed income and private equity.