Financial markets are still volatile amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Missouri's retirement systems for public workers have regained significant portions of money lost as the economy crashed in the spring.
By the end of the first financial quarter March 31, many of the largest public retirement systems in the state had lost 9-10 percent of their value in the market tumult caused by the pandemic — with the County Employees Retirement Fund having lost almost 14 percent of the value it had at the start of the year.
In dollar figures, the Public School Retirement System lost more than $4.15 billion. The Public Education Employees' Retirement System lost more than $498.4 million.
The Missouri State Employees Retirement System lost more than $757.8 million.
The Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees' Retirement System lost more than $236.2 million.
CERF lost more than $81.1 million.
That's all in addition to the losses of municipal retirement funds across the state, from St. Louis to Kansas City and Hannibal to Joplin — including for police officers, firefighters, transportation workers and librarians.
First-quarter data was not immediately available for the Local Government Employees Retirement System.
Upon public review of the first quarter's damage in May, Michael Ruff told the state legislative Joint Committee on Public Retirement he's executive director of there was time left in the year for economic recovery.
That's been realized to some extent, with the largest public retirement funds in the state having regained significant chunks of their first quarter losses in the second quarter, which the committee reviewed last week.
The second quarter was April 1 through June 30.
PSRS, PEERS and MOSERS all increased in value 7-8.3 percent.
CERF increased in value approximately 12.9 percent.
MPERS had a more modest rebound of approximately 3.4 percent.
LAGERS also increased in value more than 7.8 percent, or by more than $592.5 million.
Adding together first-quarter losses and second-quarter gains, PSRS was still down more than $1.1 billion in value from the start of the year.
PEERS remained down more than $105.8 million.
MOSERS was down more than $225.6 million.
MPERS remained down more than $158.2 million.
CERF remained down more than $15.9 million compared to the start of the year.
The 12-month rates of return on the funds remain positive — except for MPERS, which had a negative 0.46 percent 12-month net rate of return at the end of the second quarter.
Rate of return, or ROR, measures how an investment has performed over time.
The 12-month RORs for the second-quarter measure performance between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.
More information from the Legislature's public retirement committee is available at jcper.org/quarterly-meetings/.
Ruff told the committee while it's still difficult to make any long-term predictions about investment markets, volatility continues, and with low interest rates, pension plans can expect lower returns on fixed income assets.
However, since March 23 — when markets hit bottom in the spring — "that is a pretty big rebound," he said of the recovery that's happened so far.