The U.S. Census Bureau released a supplemental unit and public-use file from for the 2019 Annual Survey of Public Pensions (ASPP). The ASPP provides revenues, expenditures, financial assets and membership information for defined-benefit public pension systems. The file provides detailed actuarial data for state and locally administered defined-benefit public pension systems in the ASPP.
Defined-benefit plans provide a specified monthly benefit in retirement. Retirement benefits are calculated through a plan formula that considers such factors as salary and service. This is different from other plans that do not promise a specific amount of benefits at retirement. Retirement income is based on the employee or the employer (or both) contributions to the employee's individual account that are invested on the employee's behalf and depend on investment performance.
The highlights include:
In 2019, 76.1% of state and locally administered defined-benefit public pension systems met or exceeded their actuarially determined contributions.
- State and locally administered defined-benefit public pension plans, on average, were 73.6% funded on a dollar-weighted basis.
- In 2019, 83.4% of the state and locally administered defined-benefit public pension systems reported a net liability, while the remainder had a surplus or had a net position equal to their total pension liability.
- State and locally administered defined-benefit public pension systems reported liabilities totaled $4.7 trillion compared to the reported assets of $3.5 trillion.
- For state and locally administered defined-benefit public pension systems, the mean reported assumed rate of return (discount rate) was 6.6% with a modal rate of 7.0%.
Actuarial data are also available for 2017 and 2018 at <www.census.gov/data/datasets/2017/econ/aspp/aspp-historical-datasets.html>.
The data and technical documentation for this release can be found at <www.census.gov/programs-surveys/aspp.html>.