Local Politics

State pension funds return to profitability

State Treasurer Janet Cowell said Wednesday that North Carolina's public pension funds earned $7 billion in 2009, rebounding from heavy losses the previous year.

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State Treasurer Janet Cowell
RALEIGH, N.C. — State Treasurer Janet Cowell said Wednesday that North Carolina's public pension funds earned $7 billion in 2009, rebounding from heavy losses the previous year.

The pension funds, which support more than 820,000 retired state workers and teachers, were valued at $67 billion on Dec. 31.

In 2008, the funds dropped from $77 billion to $60 billion. Much of that decline came amid the global meltdown of stock markets in the final months of the year.

The pension funds bottomed out at about $54.6 billion last March.

For the year, the stock portfolio in the pension funds gained 32.68 percent, while the bond portfolio gained 7.27 percent.

Cowell has urged lawmakers repeatedly over the past year to boost funding for the pension system to make up for market losses and years of small state contributions.

"The long-term health of the pension fund is important not only to retirees, but to the financial stability of the state,” she said in a statement. “It is imperative that state and local leaders prepare for increased and sustained pension contributions in their budgets over the coming years.”

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