• Despite strong recent stock market returns and states paying an increased share in annual required contributions, pension funding ratios for state and local plans stayed flat. As states begin using a new accounting standard to measure assets and liabilities, funding ratios are likely to decline.
  • Policy changes in Washington State suggest teacher pensions can be reformed in a way that is attractive to both teachers and states.
  • Investment earnings make up around 60 percent of pension benefits. Over the past three decades, state and local pension plans have changed their investment strategies in attempt to boost investment returns. Plans originally invested in fixed-income bonds, but beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, began increasing their investments in stock and equities. In the past decade, plans have increased alternative investments such as private equity, hedge funds, real estate, and commodities.   

  • The Urban Institute created an interactive grading tool assessing each state retirement plan. States are graded on seven key criteria: rewarding younger workers, promoting a dynamic workforce, encouraging work at older ages, providing retirement income to short-term employees, providing retirement income to long-term employees, making required contributions, and funding ratio.

  • Public pension systems faced significantly unfunded liabilities after the financial crisis. In response, a number states reduced the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for public employees. In this Center for Retirement Research brief, the authors examine the changes and response to COLA reductions in the years after the economic crisis.