New Jersey’s Public Pension Hits Highest Value Since 2015

Gov.-elect Murphy hopes to meet or beat Gov. Christie’s state contribution plans.

New Jersey’s troubled public employee pension fund saw a silver lining Wednesday, as state officials revealed the fund’s assets reached $76.3 billion at the end of October, its highest value in more than two years.

High returns provided relief for the fund and helped cause the uptick in value. In the last fiscal year, the fund returned 13.07%.

The fund is currently at its highest value since July 2015, when it reached nearly $78 billion.

Despite hope from a ratings agency and S&P Global over the summer that the fund will turn itself around, New Jersey remains one of the worst-funded states in the country. In 2016, the fund’s assets were only able to cover 31% of its liabilities.

According to documents from the State Investment Council, the fund has generated 4.03% so far. However, New Jersey’s long-term assumed rate of return is at 7.65%.

When measured under national accounting standards, the state and local pension fund has more than $168 billion in total unfunded liabilities. The figure is lower under state rules for debt estimation.

Although the state’s actions are in line with Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to increase contributions by one-tenth each year, New Jersey’s contributions will only amount to roughly half of what actuaries recommend. Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has aspirations to either stay in line with Christie’s plan or go above and beyond it.

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