Data collected on public pension systems indicate defined benefit plans are a powerful economic force in the United States, with $3.65 trillion in assets as of mid-2013.
A website called Public Plans Data contains this and other detailed information on state and local pension and retiree health plans, and selected financial information on plan sponsors. It offers statistics from 2001-13 on more than 150 state and local pension plans, with more than 100 variables.
The site is a collaboration among the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Its features include “quick-fact” pages with data at the national, state, and plan levels, downloadable financial reports and actuarial valuations for all sample plans, as well as an enhanced interactive data browser for customized searches.
Funding levels of the 4,000 public-sector retirement systems have stabilized after the downturn in 2008-09, with a national average of 73 percent in 2013. These systems have 14.4 million active working members and 9 million retirees, with $228.5 billion in annual benefit distributions.
The information is searchable by state. For instance, searching under Ohio in the “Quick Facts” section reveals information about the four largest statewide public pension plans. It allows users to compare the systems to each other and to the national average.
OPERS’ funded ratio of 82.4 percent in 2013 is highest among these four systems and nearly 13 percent above the national average. The site also contains information on plan costs, membership and benefits.