Local Politics

Cowell: State pension funds begin to stabilize

Posted August 5, 2009

— State Treasurer Janet Cowell said Wednesday that North Carolina's public pension funds lost about $12 billion during the 2008-09 fiscal year but noted that the funds started bouncing back in recent months.

The funds lost 14.2 percent during the 12-month period but were up 8.6 percent in the most recent quarter, she said.

The losses left the pension funds, which support more than 820,000 retired state workers and teachers, with assets of $60.2 billion at the end of June, she said. They reached a low of $54.6 billion in March, she said.

“This decline was anticipated by our investment experts,” Cowell said in a statement. “We appreciate the state legislature recently granting us additional flexibility so we can better navigate these downturns and position ourselves for strong returns when markets improve.”

Cowell has urged lawmakers repeatedly in recent months to boost funding for the pension system to make up for market losses and years of small state contributions.

North Carolina's pension funds performed better than the Standard & Poor's stock index, which lost 28.2 percent during the 12-month period ended in June. California's pension system, one of the largest public funds in the U.S., lost 23.4 percent during the fiscal year.

Cowell said North Carolina's conservative investments helped protect it from heavy losses in the stock market. Forty-two percent of the pension funds is in bonds, which gained 7.6 percent during the year. That offset some of the the 27.7 percent loss on the funds' stock portfolio, which accounts for 47 percent of the funds' holdings.


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  • affirmativediversity Aug 5, 2009

    Of course it doesn't help that Mike Easley halted the State contributions to the Pension Fund when "it was making money" and, of course, Bev Perdue is continuing that policy when "it was losing funds"!!!

    But, hey...that new Art Gallery Expansion is lovely!!!!!

  • pbjbeach Aug 5, 2009

    ex state employee all that i can say is that it is surely a good thing that state employees had the sense to stop jim huint an the others that have over the years wanted to get their grubby little hands into this pension just becasue of it's overall substanstical size of this fund i for one am surely glad that they didn't get their hands on our money an i hope that they the politicians never will be allowed to do so for if that was to happen the next thing that you would be hearing about was that this pension fund was going into bankrtupcy along with the majior banks that are having to be bailed out the only thing about that is the government would trun around an bail out the state employees pension funds thank you