The 100 largest public-employee retirement systems in the country saw their largest earnings on investments since the third quarter of 1974, according to new statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Total holdings and investments increased 5.6 percent, from $2.6 trillion last quarter to $2.8 trillion in the first quarter of 2012. There was a year-to-year increase of 0.7 percent from $2.7 trillion in the first quarter of 2011. Total holdings and investments reached the second-highest level since the market downturn of 2008, the “Summary of the Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions for 2012: Q1” stated.

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