Thriving Multiemployer Plans Increase Benefits

April 11, 2001 ( - According to a new survey, the nation's multiemployer plans are in good shape financially, and are taking advantage of this to increase employee benefits.

In fact, of the 462 plans surveyed by the Segal Company in 2000, 70% had increased benefits in the last plan year.  A year ago, only 57% of surveyed plans had done so.

A multiemployer plan is a pension plan maintained under a collective bargaining agreement, which covers the employees of more than one employer – generally in the same industry.

Fully Funded

Most of the multiemployer defined benefit pension plans that responded to the 2000 Survey of the Funded Position of Multiemployer Plans, were well-funded.  Over three quarters (79%) of plans surveyed were fully funded for their vested benefits, up from 77% a year ago.  However, those results do not reflect the impact of 2000’s market collapse.

The average funded ratio, the ratio of assets to vested benefits, for all surveyed plans was also a very high 97% in 2000, matching last year’s reading.

Only 5% of the plans surveyed in 2000 had funded ratios below 80%.

Plan Demographics

Not surprisingly, older plans, which tend to have more retirees, generally have the lowest ratio of actives to retirees.  The Segal Company found that plans less than a decade old had the most actives per retiree (10.6, on average), while plans in existence for 45 or more years had the fewest actives per retiree, 0.4, on average.  Overall, surveyed plans had an average active-to-retiree ratio of approximately 2 to 1.

Plans included in the survey spanned all geographic areas, a range of industries, and represent the benefit experience of 3.5 million participants – some 40% of all participants in Taft-Hartley plans.