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20 Best & Worst States for Pension Funding

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State pension funds have been under pressure since the stock market tumbled in 2008. The Great Recession forced states to slash budgets as revenues dropped, leaving future liabilities poorly funded and employees wondering if their promised retirement benefits would be paid.

Some states let their pension plans fall behind by delaying payments to the funds. That, coupled with an accelerating rate of retirement as the baby boom generation ages, spelled trouble.

And the data reported by states might not even tell the full story. An SEC commissioner said this year that trillions in Unfunded Liabilities are being hidden.)

Everything isn’t gloom and doom, though. The rebounding of the stock and bond markets has helped some pension funds improve their positions. In fact, a Standard & Poor’s report noted that pension funding had likely reached its low point.

Still, the report said continued management of state pension liabilities was key to ensuring that those facing funding gaps continue to rebound.

S&P’s looked at the strength of the public pension funds of all 50 states. The latest available data, which is from 2012, revealed the 20 Best and Worst State Pension Funds.

(For another look at public pensions, check out 20 Best & Worst Cities for Pension Funding.)

Our 20 Best & Worst States for Pension Funding includes the percentage of liabilities that is funded and whether each fund’s percentage went up, down or remained neutral over the previous year.

Great Big Idaho Potato Truck in Boise.

10. Idaho

Percent Funded: 84.6%

Trend: Down

Disney World in Orlando. (Photo: AP)

9. Florida

Percent Funded: 86.4%

Trend: Neutral

Jets flying in formation past lower Manhattan. (Photo: AP)

8. New York

Percent Funded: 88.2%

Trend: Down

Old Capitol building in Dover.

7. Delaware

Percent Funded: 88.3%

Trend: Down

Graceland in Memphis. (Photo: AP)

6. Tennessee

Percent Funded: 91.5%

Trend: Neutral

Hawthorne Bridge and Portland skyline.

5. Oregon

Percent Funded: 92.5%

Trend: Up

Mount Rushmore in Keystone.

4. South Dakota

Percent Funded: 92.6%

Trend: Down

A view of Seattle's Space Needle and skyline. (Photo: AP)

3. Washington

Percent Funded: 95.1%

Trend: Up

Duke fans cheering basketball team. (Photo: AP)

2. North Carolina

Percent Funded: 95.4%

Trend: Neutral

Milwaukee skyline.

1. Wisconsin

Percent Funded: 99.9%

Trend: Neutral

You’ve seen the best, now keep reading to see the states with the worst funded pension systems:

Waikiki shoreline in Honolulu. 

10. Hawaii

Percent Funded: 59.2%

Trend: Neutral

Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport.

9. Rhode Island

Percent Funded: 58.1%

Trend: Down

Mississippi flags at state capitol in Jackson. (Photo: AP)

8. Mississippi

Percent Funded: 57.9%

Trend: Down

Kansas road sign.

7. Kansas

Percent Funded: 56.4%

Trend: Down

New Hampshire Flume Gorge Bridge.

6. New Hampshire

Percent Funded: 56.1%

Trend: Down

Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (Photo: AP)

5. Louisiana

Percent Funded: 55.9%

Trend: Neutral

Valdez harbor.

4. Alaska

Percent Funded: 54.7%

Trend: Down

Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Photo: AP)

3. Kentucky

Percent Funded: 49.9%

Trend: Down

Hartford skyline.

2. Connecticut

Percent Funded: 49.1%

Trend: Down

Millennium Monument at Chicago's Millennium Park. (Photo: AP)

1. Illinois

Percent Funded: 40.4%

Trend: Down

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