Assets of Largest Retirement Plans Hit Record Level

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NEW YORK — Assets of the 1,000 largest U.S. retirement plans grew to a record $9.39 trillion as of Sept. 30, the highest level in the history of Pensions & Investments’ annual survey released last week. The amount is up 6.2% from 12 months earlier.

During the survey period, assets of the defined benefit pension plans in the top 1,000 rose 4.9% to a total of $6.12 trillion, while defined contribution plan assets rose 8.6% to $3.28 trillion.

“Each year, this survey drives home the point that the money being saved for retirement in the U.S. is among the largest pools of invested assets anywhere in the world,” said Amy Resnick, editor of Pensions & Investments.  “It makes clear how significant this money is to individuals and to the economy.”

Among the 200 largest retirement plans, assets totaled $6.79 trillion as of Sept. 30, up 6.2% from the year earlier. Of this, $4.83 trillionbelonged to DB plans (up 5.5%) and $1.96 trillion to DC plans (up 8%).

The survey showed a large gap between the number of corporate and public funds reporting double digit asset growth. Twenty-five of the 100 corporations in the top 200 saw their assets grow by 10% or more, while only four of the 77 public plans did. (The remaining funds are union or miscellaneous plans.) Consultants cited the generally longer duration of corporate pension funds’ fixed-income programs as the reason for that outperformance.

All five of the largest retirement plans in the country are public plans. The ranking of the five largest retirement plans remained unchanged from last year.

The Federal Retirement Thrift Savings Plan, based in Washington, D.C., continued to rank as the country’s largest retirement plan with$485.58 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, up 9.5% from the year earlier. It has ranked first since 2009.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento, came in second with $306.63 billion in assets, up 7.3% from the previous year.

Rounding out the top five were the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, West Sacramento, up 6.6% to $193.87 billion; New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, up 6.3% to $184.46 billion; and the New York City Retirement Systems, at $171.57 billion, up 10.6%.

The largest corporate retirement plan remains Chicago-based The Boeing Co. with $107.38 billion in total assets, up 5.3%, and ranking eighth overall.

The largest union plan remains the $37.24 billion Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust, Seattle, holding relatively steady from its $36.91 billion in assets a year earlier. It ranks 45th overall.

Pensions & Investments has compiled the survey of the 1,000 largest plans since 1979. The newspaper began tracking assets of the 100 largest plans in 1974, when they were all defined benefit plans. The survey involves reporting, data gathering and verification by the news organization’s entire U.S. editorial team.