Best and Worst: How Public Pension Plans Stand

By ASPPA Net Staff • August 05, 2016 • 0 Comments
Public pension plans face sobering liabilities, and recently released data provides a look at funding and also where the states stand.

Work to Do


Half the states’ pension plans are 70% funded or less, Bloomberg has reported based on data from 2014. The 10 states whose funding woes were the most acute are:

1. Illinois (39.3% funded)
2. Kentucky (45%)
3. Connecticut (50.4%)
4. Alaska (52.4%)
5. Louisiana (58.7%)
6. Rhode Island (59.2%)
7. Kansas (59.9%)
8. Michigan (59.9%)
9. New Hampshire (60.6%)
10. Mississippi (60.9%)

And it’s not just states’ plans that face funding challenges.

According to Insurancenewsnet, public pension plans’ challenges continued in fiscal year (FY) 2015 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015), with funding standing at almost 74% nationally and unfunded liabilities of $1 trillion.

In addition, says Insurancenewsnet, for fiscal year (FY) 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016), some public plans had their worst returns since the Great Recession. It says that no major pension plan had investment returns of more than 1.5%. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) had a return of 0.6%, and ended FY 2016 with just under $300 billion, around $7 billion less than by the end of FY 2015.

Good News

But all is not bad news. Half the states’ pension plans were more than 70% funded in 2014, and 15 were at least 80% funded. Two — South Dakota and Wisconsin — were 100% funded. The 10 states whose plans were in the best shape are:

1. South Dakota (100%)
2. Wisconsin (100%)
3. North Carolina (96%)
4. Oregon (95.9%)
5. Tennessee (93.6%)
6. Idaho (93.1%)
7. New York (88.7%)
8. Washington (88.3%)
9. Nebraska (84.7%)
10. Maine (83.2%)