Pension Plan Funding Levels Up Slightly in August: Study

By Jerry Geisel

Sep. 10, 2012

Funding levels of pension plans sponsored by large publicly held U.S. employers edged up in August as higher interest rates reduced the value of plan liabilities and investment gains boosted the value of plan assets, Milliman Inc. said in an analysis released Sept. 10.

Defined benefit plans offered by the 100 U.S. employers with the largest pension programs were an average of 72.4 percent funded as of Aug. 31, up from 70.9 percent as of July 31, but sharply lower compared with the 78.7 percent funded ratio at the end of 2011.

In all, the plans’ aggregate funding deficit declined by $34 billion last month. At the end of August, the value of aggregate plan assets was $1.309 trillion, while the value of plan liabilities was $1.808 trillion. That resulted in a $498 billion deficit compared with the $533 billion deficit at the end of July.

July’s $533 billion deficit was the biggest in the 12 years Milliman has been conducting the analysis and eclipsed the prior record monthly deficit of $421 billion, which was set in August 2010.

Jerry Geisel writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email

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Jerry Geisel writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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