National Association of State Retirement Administrators

State and Local Government Contributions to Statewide Pension Plans: FY 17


Pension benefits for employees of state and local governments are paid from trust funds to which public employees and their employers contribute during employees’ working years. Timely contributions are vital to adequate funding and the sustainability of these plans: failing to pay required contributions results in higher future costs, due to foregone principal and investment earnings that the contributions would have generated. 

Nationally, contributions made by state and local governments to pension trust funds in recent years account for just less than five percent of all spending. Overall, the experience for FY 17 reflects a continuation of an improved effort among state and local governments to make actuarially determined pension contributions: on a dollar-weighted basis, the percentage of required contributions that was paid by public employers increased for the fifth consecutive year, while pension costs continued to grow at a slower pace than previous years. This has occurred even as plans have reduced their investment return assumptions and implemented more aggressive amortization strategies to pay off unfunded pension liabilities. 

This brief describes how contributions are determined; the recent public employer contribution experience; and trends in employer contributions over time.

Date  Published

June 2019


Keith Brainard, Research Director
Alex Brown, Research Manager

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