Although it’s not quite over yet, 2015 will likely not prove tohave been a very good year for the pension funded status of the 100largest public defined benefit plans.

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Read: State pension funds remain belowpre-recession funding levels

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That’s according to global consulting firm Milliman, Inc., whosefourth annual public pension funding study analyzed those plansfrom both a market value and an actuarial value perspective.

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Read: Even strongest states keep kicking pensioncan

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Milliman found that, although 2014’s strong market helpedincrease funded status by more than 4 percent, 2015 has been flatfrom an equity standpoint.

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In addition, the study found that the trend among many publicplan sponsors of reducing return assumptions for the future may“[reflect] today's market realities but also creates a steeper hillto climb if these pensions are to reach full funding.”

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“These pensions had a decent year in 2014, but given the earlyreturns in 2015, the road ahead could be challenging for the 66percent of these plans that are less than 80 percent funded,” BeckySielman, author of the study, said in a statement.

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Sielman added, “Many public plans have become more realisticabout return assumptions in recent years—the median returnassumption has decreased from 8.00 percent in 2012 to 7.65 percentthis year—which will further steepen the climb to full funding,especially for the 10 percent of our study that are currently lessthan 50 percent funded.”

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The study also highlighted what the firm termed a “significantmilestone” for these largest U.S. public pension plans. It’s thefirst time that retired and inactive members covered by the plansactually outnumber those active employees still earningbenefits.

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Read: Insiders say pension risk transfer marketwill grow for decades

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That doesn’t paint a pretty picture, since the accrued liabilityfor those retirees, according to the study, outpaces the accruedliability for employees by more than 40 percent in aggregate.

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