NYSTRS Ranks High in Pension Strength


NYSTRS ranks well above the average funding level for public pension plans across the country, according to a new survey by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS).

NYSTRS also exceeds the national average for revenue coming from investment earnings, according to the survey. Both factors are key indicators of the strength of the System.

The average funding level for public pension plans was 75.1% in 2020, up from 72.4% in 2019, the 2020 NCPERS Public Retirement Systems Study found. In contrast, NYSTRS has a funded ratio of 98.9% using an actuarial value of assets and 97.3% using a market value of assets, according to our latest valuation as of June 30, 2020.

In addition, the survey found that average earnings on investments accounted for 71% of public retirement system revenues nationwide, while employer and employee contributions provided 20% and 9%, respectively. Again, NYSTRS exceeds that average with 84% of revenue coming from investment earnings and just 16% coming from employer and member contributions over the past 30 years.

Hank H. Kim, NCPERS executive director and chief counsel, noted that public defined benefit pensions – like NYSTRS – owe their strength to funding responsibility being shared by employers and employees and to prudent investing for the long term.

"The data show that a long investing horizon uniquely positions pensions to provide safe, reliable retirement income for millions of public servants,” Kim said. “Employers and employees play critical roles by paying into pension funds, but patient, long-term investing is what truly differentiates public pensions from other retirement vehicles."

The NCPERS survey was conducted between September and December 2020 in partnership with Cobalt Community Research and covered the most recently concluded fiscal year.