NY comptroller: Pension fund at record $180.7 billion after 13 percent return on investment

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ALBANY, New York — New York's pension fund for state and local government workers reported Friday reaching a record high of $180.7 billion following a 3.6 percent return on investment in the most recent quarter.

That includes "solid performance" in domestic and global stocks, which account for more than 55 percent of the portfolio, said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the fund's trustee. Almost 27 percent is invested in cash, bonds and mortgages, almost 8 percent in private equity, 7 percent in real estate and the balance in other investments.

"The markets have had a long-term positive run," DiNapoli said. "We hope that will continue. Whether it'll be as strong as it was last year it's too soon to tell."

For the fiscal year that ended March 31, the fund reported a 13 percent return on investment.

While many have speculated the stock market has been running stronger and longer than anticipated, it's hard to know whether that's accurate, or whether the market will have a correction rather than a bubble bursting, DiNapoli said.

"Over the long term, the fact that the economy is improving is a good thing," he said. The fund's diversity makes it well-positioned to weather a possible correction in the stock markets, he added.

The Common Retirement Fund for some 644,000 government employees also paid $2.2 billion of benefits to about 422,000 retirees and beneficiaries in the quarter that ended June 30.

The average employer contribution rate is 20.1 percent of salary for most public workers and nearly 27.6 percent for police and firefighters, though rate reductions are expected to be announced later this month.

"We'll wait and see what the final numbers are, but I think we'll have good news for the local governments," DiNapoli said.

While acknowledging some recent shifts among fund participants, with a few thousand fewer workers and more retirees, DiNapoli said there are still far more active employees, and as the economy improves he expects governments will start to rehire people.

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