Pension Funding Improving

The latest Public Plans Database (PPD) analysis indicates that the funded status of state and local pension plans nationwide has improved to 75.4% in 2021, up from 72.2% in 2020. The funded status has trended upward during a period of strong investment returns since 2020, and as more state and local governments are disciplined about making the required pension plan contributions. Read Public Plans Database – Snapshot as of December 2021.

The PPD contains data on the 210 largest state and local defined benefit (DB) pension plans and 103 defined contribution (DC) plans. It will continue to be expanded each quarter with state-wide and large local government plans. PPD data on DB and DC retirement plans provides governments and plan administrators an expanded, holistic view of public sector retirement benefits, as they focus on public employee financial security.

Overview: State and Local Employee Benefits

As employers across the nation face unprecedented labor shortages, new research finds that benefits offered by state and local governments can help attract and retain workers even amidst the Great Resignation.

Unlike many private sector jobs, nearly all public service workers have access to pension plans, health care benefits, and life insurance. Also, a majority have access to key quality of life benefits like paid leave, employee assistance programs, wellness initiatives, and defined contribution retirement savings accounts. Read the research.

Financial Wellness Case Studies

A series of financial wellness case studies provides state and local government employers with key learnings and promising practices to help workers reduce debt, save for retirement, and reach other financial goals. This research comes as public sector workers report increased financial challenges in the wake of COVID-19, and as state and local employers struggle to attract and retain employees amid the Great Resignation.

The report, Case Studies of Innovative Public Sector Employee Financial Wellness Programs, highlights the results of five jurisdictions that participated in a one-year initiative that awarded $1.4 million in grants to 24 jurisdictions to establish or improve public employee financial wellness programs. This effort is part of a MissionSquare Research Institute collaboration with the International Public Management Association For Human Resources (IPMA-HR) and the National Association of State Treasurers Foundation (NASTF), with the support of the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Webinar: Employee Financial Wellness

Hear from stakeholders involved in the just-completed state and local government financial wellness grant program about lessons learned and applicability to other organizations. Join us for a webinar on Thursday, March 3, at 2pm. Register here.

Connect on Twitter

To engage further around institute research, connect on Twitter at the new handle: @MSQInstitute.

MissionSquare Research Institute in the News

PlanSponsor published an interview with Institute Managing Director Joshua Franzel, PhD., regarding public sector defined contribution plans, while Eightfold AI cited Senior Research Manager Rivka Liss-Levinson, PhD, on career development.

Those covering the recent Great Resignation infographic included American City & County, Funkhouser & Associates, Governing, K-12 Dive, Pew Charitable Trusts, Trade & Industry Development, and the NAST newsletter.

Financial wellness program fact sheets were discussed by PlanSponsor.

Additional coverage included Route Fifty citing research on employee burnout, Forbes on K-12 burnout, and State Affairs (Georgia) regarding staffing turnover.