The overall estimated funding ratio of the 100 largest U.S. public pension plans improved slightly to 74.8% as of April 30 from 74.5% a month earlier, according to the Milliman 100 Public Pension Funding index.
During the month of April, Milliman estimated that public pension plans had an aggregate investment return of 0.8%, with an estimated range of 0.4% to 1.2%.
The slightly positive return in April followed strong months in January and March and a significantly negative month for investment returns in February.
Seventeen plans had funding ratios above 90% as of April 30, the same as the previous month, and 24 plans had ratios below 60%, also the same as the previous month.
"April's financial markets were somewhat less volatile than previous months, which led to a small improvement in funding ratios for the country's largest public pension plans," said Rebecca A. Sielman, principal and consulting actuary at Milliman and author of the Milliman 100 Public Pension Funding index, in a news release Thursday. "We continue to see that the majority of plans in our study remain between 60% to 90% funded." Also as of April 30, a total of 19 plans had ratios between 60% and 70% (up from 18 as of March 31), 20 plans were between 70% and 80% (down from 21), and 20 plans were between 80% and 90% (the same as the previous month).
As a result of the positive returns for the month ended April 30, estimated assets rose to $4.52 trillion from $4.49 trillion a month earlier, while estimated liabilities rose slightly to an estimated $6.04 trillion from $6.03 trillion.