NYSTRS continues to be one of the top-performing, most secure and well-funded public pension plans in the country, according to the System’s recently released 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).
Consistently ranked among the largest pension funds in the nation, NYSTRS’ year-end net position was $122.5 billion. The System’s 30-year rate of return, net of fees, was 8.8% and its funded level was 99.2% using an actuarial value of assets and 100.9% using a market value of assets. Nationally, the average funding level for public retirement systems is 73%, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
“Being fully funded means we have the assets necessary to pay all accrued benefits to our more than 430,000 active and retired members and beneficiaries,” said David P. Keefe, a retired teacher and president of the NYSTRS Board of Trustees.
Benefits paid to retirees and beneficiaries during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019 were approximately $7.3 billion, with nearly 80% of those benefits paid to residents of New York state. This is significant as retiree spending becomes income for others, thereby fueling both state and local economies.
More details about the System’s finances and investments can be found in the CAFR for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2019 and 2018. The full report is available in the Library of this website.
“As this annual report demonstrates, NYSTRS Board and staff are dedicated to fulfilling our mission: to provide our members with a secure pension,” said NYSTRS Executive Director and CIO Thomas K. Lee.
According to the report, the System’s total portfolio returned 7.1%, net of fees, for the fiscal year, slightly below the 7.25% assumed rate of return. However, returns in six of the past 10 years exceeded the assumed rate.
Over the past 30 years, earnings on investments have produced 85% of NYSTRS’ income. The national average is 62%, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA).
Other financial highlights from the CAFR include:
- Investments experienced appreciation of $5.6 billion in 2019.
- The System’s 2019 net position increased from 2018 by $2.6 billion or 2.2%.
- Contributions from employers were $1.8 billion in 2019.