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Pension Funded Status Down, Volatility up in May

Practice Management

The average funded status of the 100 largest corporate pension plans in the United States dropped slightly from April to May, while volatility of both assets and liabilities rose slightly, according to recently released data.

According to NISA Investment Advisors, average funded status dropped by 2.9 percentage points; it had stood at 92.0% on April 30 and now registers at 89.1%. Average funded status has fluctuated between 88.7% and 92% since Jan. 1.

At the same time, volatility of assets and of liabilities increased slightly.

Volatility  Changes, April to May 2019

Component April 30, 2019 May 31, 2019 Change from April to May, 2019
Assets 7.2% 8.2% +1 percentage point
Liabilities 6.1% 6.4% +0.3 percentage point


Volatility had been falling consistently this year for both assets and liabilities from month to month this year from the levels at which they stood at the end of 2018, 9.6% and 7.1%, respectively. May’s increase was the first one of 2019.

The NISA figures are from its Pension Surplus Risk Index, an estimate of the funded status volatility of the 100 largest publicly traded U.S. corporate pension plans. The plans it measures collectively account for $1.2 trillion in assets and $1.3 trillion in liabilities. The index is updated monthly.