Funded Ratio for 100 Largest US Public Pensions Climbs to 73.4%, According to Milliman Estimates

Nearly One-Third of PPFS Plans Lowered Interest Rate Assumptions Since 2018 Study

Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, released the results of its 2019 Public Pension Funding Study (PPFS), which analyzes funding levels of the nation’s 100 largest public pension plans, including an independent assessment on the expected real return of each plan’s investments.

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For Milliman’s 2019 PPFS, the estimated aggregate funded ratio of the nation’s largest public pension plans is 73.4% as of June 30, 2019, with the estimated combined investment return at 7.34% in Q1 2019 and 2.66% in Q2, and aggregate plan assets reaching $3.84 trillion as of June 30. Total Pension Liabilities (TPL) for these plans crossed the $5 trillion mark for the first time, and as of June 30, 2019 Milliman estimates the PPFS aggregate TPL to be $5.23 trillion.

“Thanks in large part to strong market performance in the first half of 2019, plan assets continue to keep pace with liability growth, buoying public pension funding,” said Becky Sielman, author of Milliman’s Public Pension Funding Study. “But we’re also seeing plan sponsors continue to inject conservatism into their interest rate assumptions, with nearly one-third of these plans lowering rates since the last study. While interest rate assumptions of 8.00% were once the norm, 85 of the public pensions in our study now have assumptions of 7.50% or below.”

Milliman is among the world’s largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. The firm has consulting practices in healthcare, property & casualty insurance, life insurance and financial services, and employee benefits.

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