N.J. Public-Worker Pension Fund Just Had A Very Good Year

New Jersey’s pension fund for state and local government employees on Wednesday reported a 16.4 percent return on investments in 2019.

New Jersey Division of Investment Director Corey Amon told the State Investment Council Wednesday the preliminary returns for the calendar year have been “unequivocally strong." The State Investment Council oversees New Jersey’s $80 billion public-worker pension fund.

Global stocks, which make up nearly half of the fund’s portfolio, were the best performing asset class, up nearly 27 percent last year, Amon said.

“Global stocks led the way in a very strong return environment. With nearly half the portfolio in global stocks, that was the key driver of calendar year returns in excess of 16 percent for the pension fund,” he said.

For the fiscal year beginning July 1, the pension fund has so far recorded a 4.93 percent return.

The public pension fund is among the worst-funded in the U.S. but has been improving as the state increases how much money it contributes each year. Investment earnings play a big role in the health of the fund, as well.

The public pension system assumes the fund will return 7.5 percent over the long run. It closed out the last fiscal year on June 30 at 6.27 percent. And the annual return over the past 15 years is 7.06 percent, according to the Division of Investment.

Private equity, U.S. stocks and real estate have routinely performed best for the pension fund in recent years, Amon said.

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