For state and local governments, employer-sponsored retirement plans remain important for attracting and retaining well-qualified public employees. They help to facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of public services by serving as a workforce management tool and providing employees with financial security in retirement. In the United States, nearly all state and local government employees have access to a retirement plan at work, and participation is typically mandated.

MissionSquare Research Institute (formerly the Center for State and Local Government Excellence at ICMA-RC) was the first organization to make state and local data pension plan data available to the public and to undertake research to compare retirement plans in the private sector with those in the public sector.

With its partners, the Institute has published research on such topics as pension funding levels, types of retirement savings plans, trends in funding practices, impacts and lessons learned from pension reforms undertaken in the wake of the Great Recession, as well as the role of defined contribution and hybrid plans in the public sector.

Retirement Resources

Public Plans Database Snapshot

A new analysis finds that through the first quarter of 2021, state and local retirement plans have accumulated assets of $5 trillion in defined benefit (DB) pension plans and $531 billion in defined contribution (DC) plans. Despite the early economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average funded ratio among state and local pension plans has held steady at 72% for plans included in the Public Plans Database (PPD).

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Local Government Pension Plans’ Funded Ratios Hold Steady in Fiscal Year 2020

A new analysis of local public pension plans indicates that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, local government pension plans will see virtually no change in their average funded ratio during fiscal year 2020. Moreover, projections indicate that local pensions are quite sustainable on a cash-flow basis, and most can pay benefits indefinitely […]

Market Decline Worsens the Outlook for Public Plans

A new analysis of state and local public pension plans indicates that these retirement plans will end fiscal year 2020 with negative annual investment returns, reduced asset values, lower funded ratios and higher actuarial costs. Additionally, the research indicates that plan finances will continue to decline in the wake of the economic downturn.  These findings […]