The aggregate funding ratio for U.S. state pension plans increased by 2.6 percentage points to 76% during the fourth quarter, according to Wilshire Consulting.
The quarterly change in funding resulted from a 4.3% increase in asset values partially offset by a 0.7% increase in liability values. The aggregate funded ratio is estimated to have increased 9.8 percentage points over calendar year 2019.
"The fourth quarter's rise in funded ratios was primarily driven by positive returns for public equities," said Ned McGuire, managing director and a member of the investment management and research group of Wilshire Consulting, in a news release.
Meanwhile, the funding ratio for state plans increased by 9.8 percentage points from Dec. 31, 2018.
"Asset values increased by just over 18% during 2019. This increase was led by public U.S. equities," Mr. McGuire added. "The 2019 Wilshire 5000 Total Market index return of 31.02% was the best calendar-year return since 2013."