A significant decline in discount rates led to a record funding deficit in pension plans, approximately $327 billion, according to Milliman's just-released 2012 Pension Funding Study.

The deep slide, $94.7 billion more than the numbers generated at the end of 2010, is the largest deficit ever recorded in the 12-year history of Milliman's study, and is largely attributable to an equally historic year-end discount rate of 4.80 percent.

Pension expenses also came in at a record level of $38.3 billion, a $7.8 billion jump from the previous year. That charge to earnings was also the highest in the history of the study.

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