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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


State Pension Employer Contribution Rates Announced for 2020-21, Assumed Rate of Return Lowered

August 29, 2019

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) employer contribution rates for State Fiscal Year 2020-21 will remain the same as the previous year for the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) with a small increase in rates for the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS).

DiNapoli is also dropping the long-term assumed rate of return on investments from 7 percent to 6.8 percent, anticipating a lower return investment environment.

“Each year, for the past seven years, we’ve been able to lower pension contribution rates or essentially keep them flat,” DiNapoli said. “Through solid investment returns, prudent management and a diverse portfolio we have kept the state pension fund strong and one of the best funded in the nation. The long-term outlook for investors is changing and requires a more conservative approach. As in years past, we’re taking the responsible action of lowering our assumed rate of return now so we can better weather market volatility.”

The estimated average employer contribution rate for ERS will remain at 14.6 percent of payroll. The estimated average employer contribution rate for PFRS will increase by 0.9 percent, from 23.5 percent to 24.4 percent of payroll. NYSLRS is made up of these two systems, which pay pension benefits to public employees.

This marks the third time that DiNapoli has lowered the state pension fund’s assumed rate of return as economic and demographic conditions have changed. In 2010, he decreased the rate from 8 percent to 7.5 percent, and in 2015 to 7 percent.

The median assumed rate of return among state public pension funds is 7.25 percent as of February 2019, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Only 16 public funds are currently below 7 percent for their investment return assumptions.

DiNapoli also announced the funded ratio of the state pension fund is 96.1 percent. In June, the Pew Charitable Trusts once again ranked the state pension fund as one of the best funded among public pension plans. Only eight states had a funded ratio of 90 percent or higher based on 2017 data, with New York ranked fourth behind Wisconsin, South Dakota and Tennessee.

The state pension fund’s average rate of return is 7 percent over the past five years, 10.34 percent over 10 years, 6.64 percent over 20 years and 8.94 percent over 30 years.

Employer rates for NYSLRS are determined based on investment performance and actuarial assumptions recommended by the Retirement System’s Actuary and approved by DiNapoli. A copy of the Actuary’s report can be found here.

In 2012, DiNapoli began providing employers with access to a two-year projection of their annual pension bill six weeks earlier than in previous years. Employers use this projection in the preparation of their budgets. Projections of required contributions vary by employer depending on factors such as the types of retirement plans they adopt, salaries and the distribution of their employees among the six retirement tiers.

There are more than 3,000 participating employers in ERS and PFRS, and more than 300 different retirement plan combinations.

Payments based on the new rates are due by Feb. 1, 2021, but employers receive a discount if payment is made by Dec. 15, 2020.

To read the report, go to:

About the New York State Common Retirement Fund

The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the NYSLRS on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation. Its audited invested asset value as of the close of last fiscal year (March 31, 2019) was $210.5 billion.

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