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Public Pension Shortfall

Public Pension Shortfall

October 18, 2018
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Many public employees considering early retirement may be in for a rude awakening. "The Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed the state pension funding gap for fiscal year 2016, the most recent year for which comprehensive data were available for all 50 states. This brief outlines the primary factors that caused the widening divide in most states between assets and liabilities, and identifies tools that can help legislators strengthen policies and better manage risk for their state’s retirement plans. In 2016, the state pension funds in this study cumulatively reported a $1.4 trillion deficit—representing a $295 billion jump from 2015 and the 15th annual increase in pension debt since 2000. Overall, state plans disclosed assets of just $2.6 trillion to cover total pension liabilities of $4 trillion."  Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, and New Jersey were less than 50 percent funded, and another 17 states had less than two-thirds of the assets needed to pay promised benefits. Only New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin were at least 90 percent funded.