Public Pension Assets Increase More Than $257 Billion

May 1, 2012 ( - U.S. state and local public-employee retirement systems had $2.7 trillion in total cash and investment holdings in 2010.  

By Tara Cantore | May 01, 2012
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According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, this is a $257.2 billion, or 10.6%, increase from $2.4 trillion in 2009. This follows a $722.2 billion loss the previous year.

There were $346.1 billion in earnings on investments in 2010, compared with losses the previous year totaling $621.1 billion. This was the first year showing positive earnings since 2007. Retirement systems have substantial investments in financial markets, and consequently earnings are dependent on changes in market performance.

Employee contributions decreased by 0.5%, from $39.3 billion in 2009, to $39.1 billion in 2010. Government contributions increased by 1.5%, from $85.2 billion in 2009, to $86.4 billion in 2010. Employee contributions comprised 31.2%, and government contributions comprised 68.8% of total contributions.

Total payments increased by 6%, from $201.7 billion in 2009 to $213.8 billion in 2010. Payments consist of benefits, withdrawals and other payments.

Benefits increased by 6.4%, from $188.9 billion in 2009, to $201.0 billion in 2010. Benefit payments comprised 94% of total payments.

Most investment categories showed increases, with decreases in only cash and short-term investments, mortgages and real property. These three categories comprised 7.9% of total holdings.