2012 Another Challenging Year for U.S. Pensions

August 27, 2012 ( - The overall financial health of U.S. corporate defined benefit (DB) pension plans declined in 2011, and 2012 looks challenging as well, according to analysis by Mercer.

By PLANSPONSOR staff | August 27, 2012
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The funded status of pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 declined from 81% at December 31, 2010, to 75% at December 31, 2011. Funded status continued to decline in 2012, as these plans hit a record low of 70% as of July 31, representing a shortfall of $689 billion.  

In the report “How Does Your Retirement Program Stack Up? – 2012,” Mercer presents an in-depth analysis of retirement program data disclosed by the S&P 1500 companies in their 10-K reports for 2011. This analysis supplements Mercer’s monthly update of funded status of these plans and enables companies to better understand how pension costs affect their overall cost structures, risk profiles and competitive positions.  

“While large U.S. corporations contributed over $70 billion to their defined benefit plans in 2011, the overall funding deficits at year-end 2011 reverted to 2009 levels,” said Eric Veletzos, principal and consulting actuary with Mercer’s Retirement, Risk & Finance business, and the study’s primary author. “Liability growth exceeded asset returns for the fourth consecutive year, offsetting these contributions.”