WASHINGTON — State and local public employee retirement systems’ assets rose 14.6%, or $325 billion, to $2.5 trillion in 2011 for the second consecutive year of growth, according to a new Census Bureau report released Thursday.
The $2.5 trillion of cash and investment holdings followed a $257.2 billion gain in 2010.
The 15-page report, the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered Defined, reviewed public pension information such as the number of such systems, as well as their membership, beneficiaries, contributions revenues, expenditures, investment holdings,
The systems’ 2011 investment earnings, which rose for the second consecutive year after two years of losses in 2008 and 2009. reached pre-market downturn levels, showing a 2.1% increase from 2007, which totaled $402.3 billion in earnings on investments before the market downturn in 2008, the report said.
Similar to 2010, the five states with the largest total amounts of holdings and investments were California, New York, Texas, Ohio and Florida with $433.3 billion, $235.4 billion, $165.5 billion, $150.3 billion $134 billion, respectively. Those five states comprised of 44% of total holdings and investments. The remaining 45 states had total holdings under $100 billion.
Total holdings and investments consist of cash and short-term investments, governmental and nongovernmental securities and other investments such as real property.
Most investment categories showed increases. Governmental securities, which includes obligations of the Treasury, federal agency securities, and state and local government securities, increased by 7.4% to $207.8 billion in 2011 from $193.4 billion in 2010.
Cash and short-term investments increased by 36.4% to $107.3 billion from $78.7 billion in 2010.
Total revenue for state-administered pension systems was $516.5 billion in 2011, with earnings on investments comprising 79.5% of the total revenue and the remaining 20.5% coming from employee and government contributions. Earnings on investments totaled $410.6 billion in 2011, 41.1% higher than the 2010 earnings, which totaled $291.1 billion, the report said. The most notable decline occurred with funds held in trust, which declined 18.7% to $10.1 billion from $36.4 billion in 2010.
Total contributions increased 8.1% to $105.9 billion in 2011 from $98.0 billion in 2010.
Total payments, which consist of benefits, withdrawals and other payments, increased by 8.5% to $189 billion from $174.2 billion in 2010. The increase in total payments was driven by an increase in benefit payments, which comprised 93.6% of total payments in 2011, according to Erika Becker-Medina, author of the report.
The average annual benefit, total benefit payments divided by the number of beneficiaries, was $24,137 in 2011.
Connecticut had the highest average annual benefit payment from state-administered pensions at $37,954, the second consecutive year to hold this title. It was one of six states with average annual benefit payments above $30,000. North Dakota had the lowest average annual benefit payment at $14,331, according to the report.