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About Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions


U.S. Census Bureau as authorized by 13 U.S.C. Sections 161 and 182.


The Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions is a quarterly survey that provides national summary data on the revenues, expenditures, and composition of assets of the largest defined benefit public employee pension systems for state and local governments. This survey currently consists of a panel of 100 pension systems, which comprise 87.5 percent of financial activity among such entities, based on the 2012 Census of Governments.


Data are collected on the financial holdings and activities of the largest public-employee pension systems. The financial holdings data show assets in various types of securities such as stocks, bonds, federal notes, and mortgages. Revenue data consist of earnings, as well as contributions from governments and employees. Expenditure data consist primarily of payments to beneficiaries and withdrawls.


Data have been collected on a quarterly basis since 1968. The collection starts at the beginning of each calendar quarter and continues for almost three months. Revenue collected, payments made, and asset amounts are as of the end of each calendar quarter (March, June, September, and December).


Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions are released three months after each calendar quarter as three summary tables that present national financial transactions for the largest 100 public-employee pension systems and trends.

How the Data are Used

The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses these data to update the governments sectors of the Gross Domestic Product accounts. The Federal Reserve Board uses the data in developing the Flow of Funds Accounts. Investment bankers and analysts monitor the data to assess changes in the investment patterns of public-employee pension systems. Public policy specialists and economists use the data in econometric models to assess general economic conditions and state and local government financial activities.

Additional information on our methodology

The population of interest, data collection, data processing, and data quality, are available at Methodology

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