In November 2008, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released its report, The Financial Crisis and State/Local Defined Benefit Plans. As discussed in the report, the value of all retirement plan assetsin the U.S totaled $15.3 trillion at the end of 2007, including assets of public- and private-sector defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and individual retirement accounts. Of this amount, the retirement assets of state and local government plans totaled $3.2 trillion, about 21% of total retirement assets. According to the report, the overall value of equities declined 42% from the market-peak on October 9, 2007, to October 9, 2008.
For all retirement plans, the value of equity assets fell by $3.8 trillion during this period, including a $1.0 trillion decline in the value of equities for state and local government retirement plans.
The report also estimates the impact of this decline on the funding status of public plans, based on a sample of 120 state and local government plans with an average funded ratio of 87% in 2007. According to the report, if the sample plans funded ratios were based on the market value of assets as of October 9, 2008, the average funded ratios would have fallen to 65%. However, because many public sector plans smooth investment gains and losses into the actuarial value of plan assets over time (typically over a five-year period), the full impact of the financial crisis will be recognized gradually over time. As a result, the full impact of the financial crisis will depend on the future value of equities.