Pension assets of states, local governments jump

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 30, 2012 3:38 PM
Pension assets of states, local governments jump

(Reuters) - Stocks, bonds and other investments held by pension systems run by U.S. states and local governments jumped 10.6 percent in value to $2.7 trillion in 2010 after two back-to-back years of asset drops, the U.S. Census said on Monday.

The gains were mostly due to rises in financial markets after the global credit crunch and may temper anxieties about under funded pension systems for school teachers, police and other government workers.

The Census said earnings on investments held by the 3,418 plans included in the report totaled $346.1 billion, compared with losses of $621.1 billion in 2009 and $71.4 billion in 2008. That marked the first year of earnings since 2007, when earnings added up to $472.8 billion.

"Pension systems have substantial investments in financial markets and, consequently, earnings are dependent on changes in market performance," the Census report said.

Contribution by governments and 19,413,445 covered workers in 2010 rose 0.8 percent, from $124.5 billion in 2009 to $125.5 billion in 2010. Employee contributions fell back 0.5 percent, from $39.3 billion in 2009 to $39.1 billion in 2010, and represented 31.2 percent of total contributions.

Contributions by states, cities, school districts and other non-federal U.S. governments rose 1.5 percent, from $85.2 billion in 2009 to $86.4 billion in 2010, the Census said.

The average annual benefit paid to pensioners by the plans was $25,925 in 2010.

"The state with the highest average annual benefit payment from state-administered pensions in 2010 was Connecticut averaging $38,032 annually," the report said. "The state with the lowest average annual benefit payment from state-administered pensions in 2010 was Tennessee averaging $14,340 annually."

For details, see http://www.census.gov/govs/retire/index.html

(Reporting By Michael Connor in Miami; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)