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Public Pensions Lifted by Investment Returns, Improved Funding

Public pensions’ finances are rebounding as the plans post stronger investment returns and receive better funding from state and local governments, according to an association of pension officials.

“Things are improving for most,” said Keith Brainard, research director of Lexington, Kentucky-based National Association of State Retirement System Administrators. “We expect to see broad improvement in pension funding conditions.”

Gains also are being driven by limits on cost-of-living adjustments, delayed retirement and more reliance on funding from workers, said Brainard, who spoke at a May 2 online conference sponsored by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Not all funds are improving. Some governments have failed to make contributions at the level needed to cover promised benefits.

U.S. state pensions, driven by rising stock prices, recovered in 2013 as the value of assets rose to 75 percent of liabilities, up 3 percentage points from 2012, according to a report by Wilshire Consulting in March.

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