Users can see how pension fundsin each state invest their assets, how much they pay in fees andwhat their investment returns look like over the last severalyears. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Sponsors and participants can track how well (or poorly) fundeda state public pension is with a new online tool from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Considering that states face an unfunded pension liabilityshortfall of more than $1 trillion, the question of whether a givenstate's plan will be able to provide the funds it's promised toworkers and retirees looms large in every public employee'sfuture.

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Related: 5 worst, best states for pensionfunding

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Problems such as consistent underfunding, risky investmentpolicies and rising benefit costs are creating more vulnerabilitythan ever before in many public employee plans, making them sittingducks for economic downturns.

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The tool offers access to data from Pew's comprehensive50-state research on state public pensions, enabling usersto track how the fiscal health of state public pensions has changedover the past 15 years and what progress, if any, states have madetoward cutting unfunded liabilities.

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In addition, users can see how pension funds in each stateinvest their assets, how much they pay in fees and what theirinvestment returns look like over the last several years.

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The database also includes information on state-sponsoredretiree health benefits, also known as other post-employmentbenefits (OPEB).

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That information includes OPEB funding levels andasset/liability ratios over the past decade, says Pew.

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The Indicators section offers data on how the 50 states andtheir individual pension and OPEB plans rank on more than 30measures for funding and investment practices, while the stateprofiles section includes data for pension and OPEB plans andinvestment funds in all 50 states dating to 2003.

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Using the state comparison section, users can view up to threestates side-by-side to see how they performed in any year dating to2003.

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And the U.S. overview section offers a dynamic way to analyzechanges in fiscal health and discipline across states and overtime; the tool also includes a timeline animation to see how eachstate's funding behavior has affected plan fiscal health.

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The tool will be updated annually as comprehensive data becomeavailable.

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READ MORE:

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Most employees with public pensions thatare underfunded don't know it

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Largest U.s. pensions saw improvement in2017

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Why Wisconsin's pension plan isworking

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