Pension Fund Problems Worsen in 43 States

By Laurie MeislerLaurie Meisler
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The news continues to worsen for America’s public pensions and for the people who depend on them. The median funding ratio—the percentage of assets states have available for future payments to retirees—declined to 71.1 percent in 2016, from 74.5 percent in 2015 and 75.6 percent in 2014. Only six states and the District of Columbia have narrowed their funding gaps; New York did best, going from 90.6 percent to 94.5 percent. D.C. is now overfunded.

By contrast, New Jersey, Kentucky and Illinois continue to lose ground and now have only about one third of the money they need to pay retirement benefits. And three states had double-digit declines in their pension funding ratios in the past year: Colorado, Oregon and Minnesota—though some of this can be attributed to actuarial changes in the way pension liabilities are calculated.

We’ve ranked the states by the size of their funding gap. The lower the funding ratio, the more money the state has to come up with to meet its pension obligations.

Public employee pension funding ratio by state, 2016 figures

50% or less

60%

70%

80%

90% or more

No data available

ME

AK

WI

VT

NH

WA

ID

MT

ND

MN

MI

NY

MA

RI

IL

OR

UT

WY

SD

IA

OH

PA

NJ

CT

IN

CA

NV

CO

NE

MO

KY

WV

VA

MD

DE

AZ

NM

KS

AR

TN

SC

NC

DC

OK

LA

MS

AL

GA

HI

TX

FL

No data available

50% or less

60%

70%

80%

90% or more

ME

77.3

AK

62.7

WI

VT

64.3

NH

58.3

WA

84.0

ID

87.7

MT

71.2

ND

65.9

MN

53.2

MI

64.0

NY

94.5

MA

57.5

RI

55.3

IL

35.6

OR

80.5

UT

86.0

WY

73.1

SD

96.9

IA

81.6

OH

71.0

PA

52.6

NJ

30.9

CT

44.1

IN

63.0

KY

31.4

CA

NV

72.3

CO

46.0

NE

88.8

MO

76.7

WV

72.1

VA

72.4

MD

64.9

DE

81.1

AZ

60.4

NM

65.4

KS

65.1

AR

76.9

TN

SC

53.8

NC

88.3

DC

100.5

OK

71.9

LA

60.2

MS

AL

67.2

GA

75.8

HI

TX

73.0

FL

79.1

ME

77.3

No data available

50% or less

60%

70%

80%

90% or more

AK

62.7

WI

VT

64.3

NH

58.3

WA

84.0

ID

87.7

MT

71.2

ND

65.9

MN

53.2

MI

64.0

NY

94.5*

MA

57.5

RI

55.3

IL

35.6

OR

80.5

UT

86.0

WY

73.1

SD

96.9

IA

81.6

OH

71.0

PA

52.6

NJ

30.9

CT

44.1

IN

63.0

CA

NV

72.3

CO

46.0

NE

88.8

MO

76.7

WV

72.1

VA

72.4

MD

64.9

DE

81.1

KY

31.4

AZ

60.4

NM

65.4

KS

65.1

AR

76.9

TN

SC

53.8

NC

88.3

DC

100.5

OK

71.9

LA

60.2

MS

AL

67.2

GA

75.8

HI

TX

73.0

FL

79.1