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Retirement Planning > Social Security

Largest Public Pensions See 14.3% Gain

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The nation’s 100 largest public pensions saw substantial increases in their investments compared to the second quarter of 2013, gaining 14.3%. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s quarterly survey of public pensions, the holdings and investments in the 100 largest public-employee pension systems in the U.S. are at their highest level since the survey began in 1968. 

Cash and security holdings amounted to $3.365 trillion vs. $3.218 trillion in the first quarter of 2014. In the second quarter of 2013, the total was $2.945 trillion. 

Investment earnings were $129.4 billion for the quarter.

Corporate stocks increased 7.4% from Q1’s $1.095 trillion to Q2’s $1.176 trillion. They experienced a year-over-year increase of 15.5% from Q2 of 2013. At 34.9%, corporate stocks make up approximately a third of the pension systems’ total cash and security holdings for the present quarter. 

Corporate bonds, at 11%, make up less of the whole, but still contributed a respectable increase to total holdings. They rose 7.1% from $346.9 billion in Q1 to $371.5 billion in Q2, and year-over-year gained 16.1% from Q2 2013’s $319.9 billion. 

International securities, on the other hand, were down quarter to quarter, although they were up from 2013. From Q1 to Q2 of 2014, they fell 2.8% from $675.2 billion to $656.5 billion. The year-over-year increase was 11.3% from Q2 2013’s $590 billion. International securities make up 19.5% of total cash and security holdings for these systems. 

Federal government securities, which make up 9.1% of the holdings, rose 12.4% from Q1 to Q2, from $273.9 billion to $307.8 billion, and gained 16.0% year over year from $265.4 billion. 

Government contributions fell 6.8% from Q1’s $25.7 billion to $24.0 billion in Q2. Year-over-year they were up 4.8%, from $22.9 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Employee contributions rose 3.4%, from $10.9 billion to $11.3 billion, but a year-over-year decrease of 1.4%, from $11.4 billion in Q2 2013. 

Government contributions ran 2.1 to 1 over employee contributions for the quarter, with government contributions making up 68% and employee contributions making up 32% of the whole. Altogether, payments totaled $64.1 billion; that was up 1.8% from $62.9 billion in Q1, and up 4.3% from $61.4 billion in Q2 of 2013.

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