Companies Get Caught in the Pension Vise

New rules and low rates mean substantially higher contributions

General Electric, Boeing, 3M, and other U.S. employers with the 100 largest defined-benefit plans will make record pension contributions of $100 billion in 2012, 67 percent more than two years ago. It may take total contributions of $400 billion from 2011 through 2015 to ease underfunding at the plans, according to consulting firm Milliman. “It’s been called the wall of contributions,” says Alan Glickstein, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson in New York. “All of a sudden this thing jumps up and stays there for a few years.”

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