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‘Death Spiral’ Besets State Pensions as Benefits Grow

U.S. state pensions such as Illinois, Kansas and New Jersey are in a “death spiral,” with assets at many insufficient to cover benefits, payouts consuming a growing portion of resources and costs rising twice as fast as investment gains.

Less than half the 50 state retirement systems had assets to pay for 80 percent of promised benefits in their 2009 fiscal years, according to data compiled for the Cities and Debt Briefing hosted by Bloomberg Link in New York today. Two years earlier, only 19 missed the mark. Illinois covered just 50.6 percent of benefits last year, the lowest so-called funded ratio, which actuaries say shouldn’t be less than 80 percent.