A Tool to Track the Financial Health of State Public Pension Systems

Interactive site shows Pew data on funding levels, investment performance, and retiree health care

A Tool to Track the Financial Health of State Public Pension Systems
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U.S. states face more than $1 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities for their workers and retirees. Because of consistent underfunding, risky investment policies, and rising benefit costs, many public employee plans are more vulnerable than ever before to economic downturns. Policymakers, retirees, taxpayers, other stakeholders, and journalists need comprehensive data and information to analyze and tackle this escalating problem.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has made key components of its comprehensive 50-state research on state public pensions available to the public in a new data interactive. With access to data from more than 230 plans and 73 funds, users can track how the fiscal health of state public pensions has changed over the past 15 years and what progress states have made toward reducing unfunded liabilities. Users can see how pension funds in each state invest their assets, how much they pay in fees, and what investment returns they have achieved in recent years. Finally, the database includes information on state-sponsored retiree health benefits, which are typically called other post-employment benefits (OPEB). That information includes OPEB funding levels and asset/liability ratios over the past decade.

What’s inside:

Indicators

The indicators section details how the 50 states and their individual pension and OPEB plans rank on more than 30 measures for funding and investment practices.

State profiles

The state profiles section includes data for pension and OPEB plans and investment funds in all 50 states dating to 2003.

State comparison

The state comparison section allows users to view up to three states side-by-side to see how they performed in any year dating to 2003.

U.S. overview

The U.S. overview section provides a dynamic way to analyze changes in fiscal health and discipline across states and over time. This tool includes a timeline animation to see how each state’s funding behavior has affected plan fiscal health.

Information on funding, investments, and OPEB will be updated annually as comprehensive data becomes available. Visit the data interactive to learn more.

Data Visualization

State Retirement Fiscal Health and Funding Discipline

Quick View
Data Visualization

The funding gap between state pension system assets and benefits promised to workers reached $1.4 trillion in 2016. Underfunded public pension systems have become a significant fiscal challenge facing states and municipalities. Although some plans for public workers are well-funded, others failed to set aside enough money to fund the pension promises made to public employees and took on risks that they weren’t able to manage.