newspaperThe U.S. Census Bureau has released new statistics revealing that public employees at the state and local levels had approximately $3 trillion in cash and investment holdings in 2011; a 13.2 percent increase over 2010. Previously, 2010 saw gains of $288.7 billion over 2009. The statistics, from the 2011 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State- and Locally-Administered Defined Benefit Data, showed increases in all investment categories save federal agency securities, funds held in trust, and corporate bonds.

Additional highlights from the study include:

• Corporate stocks rose 12.5 percent to $1.1 trillion in 2011 comprising 34.6 percent of total holdings.

• Corporate bonds decreased 0.2 percent, falling from $429.9 in 2010 to $424 billion in 2011 comprising 14 percent of holdings.

• Foreign securities skyrocketed 24 percent over the year from $421.9 billion in 2010 to $523 billion in 2011 comprising 17.3 percent of total holdings.

• Government securities rose 3.8 percent to $240.9 billion in 2011 comprising 8 percent of total holdings.

Total revenue in these retirement accounts rose 30.6 percent in 2011 to $616.1 billion, largely driven by rising investment earnings. These earnings comprised 77.8 percent of total revenue while government contributions comprised 15.6 percent and employee contributions were the remaining 6.5 percent. Total payments increased by 8.5 percent to $232 billion in 2011 and include costs of benefits, withdrawals, and other related payments. Benefits increased by 7.6 percent over the year in 2011 and comprised 93.3 percent of total payments.

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