National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems

The Voice for Public Pensions

Annual Public Retirement Systems Study

Since 2011, NCPERS has undertaken a comprehensive annual study exploring the retirement practices of the public sector. NCPERS has collected and analyzed the most current data available on funds’ fiscal condition and steps they are taking to ensure fiscal and operational integrity.

Each study comes with an accompanying interactive dashboard, a tool with which users can filter survey data in a number of ways to help optimize the mix of funds to which they would like to compare. Please note: The dashboards are exclusively available to NCPERS members. If you have questions about your membership status or need assistance accessing the dashboards, please contact membership@ncpers.org.

The survey is conducted each fall in partnership with Cobalt Community Research. Plans that participate are recognized with the Certificate of Excellence for Public Pension Reporting and Transparency for furthering open disclosure, increasing the range of data from which to learn from, and contributing to the public’s understanding of public retirement systems. 

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the survey methodology and participation here.


2024 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study: Trends in Fiscal, Operational, and Business Practices

2024 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study: Trends in Fiscal, Operational, and Business PracticesState and local government pension funds from across the U.S. were invited to participate in the study, conducted September to December 2023. Nearly 160 funds with more than 13.8 million active and retired members and assets exceeding $2.3 trillion responded to the survey.

Public pensions saw average investment management expenses decrease to a four-year low of 39 basis points, suggesting a return to post-pandemic normalcy. Sixty-three percent of funds reported receiving their full actuarial contribution, up from 57 percent the prior year. Investment earnings continue to serve as the primary source of funding, accounting for 63 percent of public pensions’ revenue on average.



2023 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study: Trends in Fiscal, Operational, and Business Practices

NCPERS 2023 Public Retirement Systems Study

Nearly 200 state and local government pension funds responded to the survey, which was conducted between September and December 2022. These funds represent more than 19.6 million active and retired members, with assets exceeding $3 trillion. 

The study shows that public pension funds saw, on average, one-year returns of around 11.4 percent, down from 14 percent the year prior. Public pensions’ average funded level rose to 77.8 percent from 74.7 percent the year before. Investment returns continue to be the most significant source of revenue at 68 percent, followed by employer contributions (24 percent) and member contributions (nine percent).

 

 

2021 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study 

Published in February 2022, this study features data from 156 state and local government pension funds. These funds represent more than 17.7 million active and retired members, with assets exceeding $2.6 trillion. 

The study shows that public pension funds continued to tightly manage expenses and reduce their assumed rates of return in 2021. The average expen
se for administering funds and paying investment managers fell to 54 basis points. Pension funds reduced their assumed annual rates of return to an average of 7.07 percent in 2021, down from 7.26 percent a year earlier.

 


2020 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study 

Published in January 2021, this study features data from 138 state and local government pension funds. These funds represent more than 12.8 million active and retired members, with assets exceeding $1.5 trillion.
 

The study shows that public pension funds saw, on average, one-year returns of around 8.1 percent. Public pensions’ average funded level rose to 75.1 percent from 72.4 percent the year before.

2019 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study 

Published in January 2020, this study features data from 155 state and local government pension funds. These funds represent more than 12.6 million active and retired members, with assets exceeding $1.4 trillion.
 

The study shows that public pension funds saw, on average, one-year returns of around 4.5 percent. Public pensions’ average funded level fell to 71.7 percent from from 72.6 percent the year before.




 

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