Milliman analysis: Corporate pension funded status dips by $2 billion in May

Funding ratio for Milliman 100 PFI plans remains level at 91.6%

Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans.

In May, these pensions experienced a $2 billion dip in funded status as investment gains mostly offset a four-point decrease in the monthly discount rate. The funded ratio for the Milliman 100 PFI remains unchanged at 91.6% as of May 31.

“Sometimes no news is good news for corporate pensions,” said Zorast Wadia, co-author of the Milliman 100 PFI. “May’s 0.73% investment gain exceeded monthly expectations, and helped balance out the month’s modest decrease in corporate bond rates.”

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From April 30, 2018 through May 31st, Milliman 100 PFI plans experienced a $7 billion increase in asset values, while the projected benefit obligations (PBO) rose by $9 billion. As a result, the deficit increased from $139 billion to $141 billion for the month. Over the last year (June 2017 – May 2018), the Milliman 100 PFI funded status deficit has improved by $116 billion.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 4.34% by the end of 2018 and 5.03% by the end of 2019) and asset gains (10.8% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 100% by the end of 2018 and 116% by the end of 2019. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.64% discount rate at the end of 2018 and 3.03% by the end of 2019 and 2.8% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 87% by the end of 2018 and 81% by the end of 2019.

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