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Equable Institute Analysis: U.S. Public Pension Funds Did Not Recover Funded Ratio Losses in Q4

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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.
January 10, 2023 GMT
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Based on available data through December 31st, 2022, the funded ratio for US state and local pension plans will decline to 77.3% in 2022. Unfunded liabilities will increase to $1.45 trillion, after briefly falling below the $1 trillion mark in 2021.
1 of 2
Based on available data through December 31st, 2022, the funded ratio for US state and local pension plans will decline to 77.3% in 2022. Unfunded liabilities will increase to $1.45 trillion, after briefly falling below the $1 trillion mark in 2021.

2022 funded ratio declines to 77.3%; plans on track to miss investment return targets for 2023

NEW YORK, Jan. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Equable Institute released a year end update to its State of Pensions 2022 report. The analysis finds the aggregate funded ratio for U.S. state and local retirement systems declined from 83.9% in 2021 to 77.3% in 2022, based on available data through December 31st, 2022. Equable Institute estimates that unfunded liabilities will total $1.45 Trillion for the 2022 fiscal year, representing a loss of nearly half of the gains from 2021′s record investment returns.

After a year of investment volatility and record inflation, public pension plans averaged a -6.14% return on average in 2022, dramatically underperforming the 6.9% average assumed annual rate of return. Despite a year of significant losses, the funded status of state and local retirement systems remains stronger in 2022 than it was heading into the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019. However, based on Equable Institute’s outlook for 2023, most pension funds are not on track to meet investment return targets.

“While the positive gains from 2021 weren’t entirely wiped out in 2022, the outlook for 2023 is not strong,” notes Equable executive director Anthony Randazzo. “Many major market indices were close to flat over the last two quarters of the calendar year, suggesting that most pension funds with a fiscal year ending in June are already behind the curve for 2023. Looming interest rate hikes, potential negative pressure on global commerce from Covid policy changes in China, persistent inflation, and the on-going war in Ukraine are just some of the headwinds that could contribute to another year of underperforming investments.”

While aggregate numbers have trended negatively in 2022, the effect of last year’s volatile market conditions has varied across plans and states. The report finds that the funded status of most states’ retirement systems are fragile, with a few exceptions falling into resilient and distressed categories.

The year end update to State of Pensions 2022 also includes a ranking of the 2022 funded status of all 50 states plus Washington D.C. The analysis reveals that Washington D.C. and Washington State top the list with aggregate funded ratios of 103.4% and 102.9%, respectively. Illinois and Kentucky have the worst funded pension plans in the nation at the end of 2022.

STATES RANKED BY 2022 FUNDED RATIO

Rank

State

Funded Ratio

Unfunded Liability


Rank

State

Funded Ratio

Unfunded Liability

1

District of Columbia

103.4 %

-$323,351,808


42

Pennsylvania

65.3 %

$63,830,526,208

2

Washington

102.9 %

-$4,006,809,472


43

New Hampshire

65.1 %

$5,736,130,560

3

South Dakota

100.0 %

$0


44

Vermont

61.9 %

$3,355,864,768

4

Tennessee

99.5 %

$330,451,520


45

North Dakota

60.1 %

$4,427,750,400

5

Nebraska

96.1 %

$665,939,840


46

Mississippi

59.9 %

$20,583,639,040

6

New York

94.4 %

$37,288,583,680


47

South Carolina

57.8 %

$27,865,324,032

7

Wisconsin

93.2 %

$10,018,704,512


48

Connecticut

51.5 %

$41,852,312,448

8

Iowa

90.9 %

$4,339,720,704


49

New Jersey

50.1 %

$100,052,413,440

9

North Carolina

88.8 %

$14,425,116,672


50

Illinois

50.0 %

$209,967,487,488

10

Delaware

88.8 %

$1,367,923,712


51

Kentucky

47.3 %

$42,259,716,736

*Funded ratios are the aggregate of all statewide retirement systems and large municipally managed plans. Data is based on actual reported financial and Equable estimates based on benchmark returns for reported asset allocations.

A full ranking of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. is available in the year end update to State of Pensions 2022.

To read the State of Pensions 2022 Year End Update, access interactive data visualizations, and download raw data, visit: http://www.equable.org/stateofpensions2022.

About Equable Institute

Equable is a bipartisan non-profit that works with public retirement system stakeholders to solve complex pension funding challenges with data-driven solutions. We exist to support public sector workers in understanding how their retirement systems can be improved, and to help state and local governments find ways to both fix threats to municipal finance stability and ensure the retirement security of all public servants.

Equable.org | Twitter: @EquableInst | Facebook: @EquableInstitute | Instagram: @EquableInst

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SOURCE Equable Institute