With a funded ratio of nearly 100%, NYSTRS continues to rank among the top 10 largest retirement plans and among the best-funded public pension systems in the country, according to two recent national surveys.
The trade journal Pensions & Investments ranked NYSTRS as the 10th largest retirement plan based on total assets in its annual survey of the 1,000 largest public and private U.S. retirement plans. NYSTRS dropped one spot from No. 9 because AT&T Inc., which increased its retirement assets by its acquisition of Time Warner Inc., moved up from No. 10 to No. 8 and pushed Boeing Co. and NYSTRS each down a spot.
The second survey, released this month by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), found that average funding levels for public pension plans increased from 71.4% in 2017 to 72.6% in 2018. NYSTRS ranks well above that average with a funded ratio of 99% using an actuarial valuation of assets and a funded ratio of 101% using a market valuation of assets.
As a result of NYSTRS’ strong funded status, the System has been able to keep employer costs down, thereby placing less of a burden on taxpayers that fund school districts. NYSTRS’ employer contribution rate (ECR) applicable to 2017-18 school year salaries was 9.80%. By comparison, the average ECR of funds in the NCPERS study was 22% in 2018.
The 2018 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study also found the average investment return assumption dropped from 7.49% to 7.34%. NYSTRS uses an even more conservative assumption of 7.25%.
“The nation’s public pension systems are constantly adapting plan designs and assumptions to strengthen their ability to provide a secure retirement for millions of retired public servants,” according to Hank H. Kim, executive director and chief counsel of NCPERS.