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Contact:  Briana Kaya
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301-763-3030/763-3762 (fax)


Census Bureau Reports Public Pension Assets Decline More Than $726 Billion for State and Local Public Employee Retirement Systems in 2009

     The nation's state and local public employee retirement systems had $2.5 trillion in total cash and investment holdings in 2009, a $726.1 billion or 22.7 percent decrease from $3.2 trillion in 2008, according to new statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. This follows a $176.7 billion loss the previous year.

     These statistics come from the 2009 State and Local Public Employee Retirement Systems Survey, which provides an annual look at the financial activity and membership information of the nation's state and local public employee retirement systems, including revenues, expenditures, investment holdings and number of retirement systems.


     Losses on investments totaled $633.4 billion in 2009; nearly $600 billion more than in 2008 when losses totaled $38.9 billion. Retirement systems have substantial investments in financial markets and consequently earnings are dependent on changes in market performance.

     Employee contributions increased 7.0 percent in 2009, to $39.5 billion. Government contributions increased 4.5 percent to $86.1 billion with local government contributions increasing 10.0 percent, offsetting a 2.6-percent decline in state government contributions.


    Total payments increased 4.0 percent, from $193.7 billion in 2008 to $201.5 billion in 2009, because of an increase in benefit payments, which rose 6.7 percent to $187.0 billion.

Cash and Investment Holdings

    In 2009, most investment categories showed decreases. Corporate stocks dropped 29.8 percent from $1.2 trillion in 2008 to $808.9 billion in 2009. Corporate stocks comprised 32.8 percent of total holdings in 2009.

    Increases were seen only in cash and short-term investments, real property, and mortgages, which in total comprised 9.1 percent of total cash and investment holdings.

    Data are shown for revenues, expenditures, cash and investments, and membership information by national, state and local levels, in addition to a national summary table.


The estimates in this report are subject to sampling error. All comparisons in the report have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level.

The Internet tables are from the Annual Survey of State and Local Public Employee Retirement Systems for fiscal year 2009. The data in these tables are from a sample of public employee retirement systems and are subject to sampling variability. Additionally, the data are subject to coverage, response and processing errors as well as errors of nonresponse. For more information on the data limitations, definitions and methodology, see <https://www.census.gov/govs/retire/how_data_collected.html>.

For more information on realized and unrealized gains/losses, see Section 7.2.2, Measurement Issues: Valuation, of the 2006 Government Finance and Employment Classification Manual at <https://www.census.gov/govs/classification/>.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: May 19, 2016