States Are Struggling to Fund Pensions—Here’s Why

States Are Struggling to Fund Pensions—Here’s Why

Today taxpayers are paying nearly twice as much to fund pensions as they did 10 years ago.

But on average, state pensions are only 71 percent funded – amounting to more than $1 trillion dollars in debt. The bill for this debt has crowded out public spending on schools, roads, and public safety.

How did we get here? Our video explains in less than two minutes.

Learn more about the state pension funding gap.

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Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest.

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States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.

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Issue Brief

The State Pension Funding Gap: 2018

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Issue Brief

At $1.24 trillion, the 50-state pension funding gap—the difference between a state retirement system’s assets and its liabilities—improved slightly in 2018 primarily due to strong investment performance.

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State Retirement Fiscal Health and Funding Discipline

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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.