The 100 largest public pension plans earned $179.2 billion on investments in the first quarter, the most since the U.S. Census Bureau began collecting the data in 1974.
Total holdings and investments rose 5.6 percent in the quarter to $2.8 trillion, the second-highest level since U.S. equities markets collapsed in 2008 amid the worst recession since the 1930s, the census said in a report today.
Stocks increased 17.6 percent in the quarter to $967.2 billion, the report said, as corporate bonds fell 6.9 percent to $371.9 billion. International securities climbed 16.3 percent to $550 billion.
U.S. public pension funds have been struggling to restore funding levels since the recession left many with fewer assets to pay future benefits to retirees. States by 2010 had 74.6 percent of the assets needed to pay pension obligations, down from 82.8 percent in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.