Pensions by the Numbers: The $65B Hole

Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...

By Jasmine Ye Han

We’re tracking the health of U.S. pension plans and providing numbers each week on various pension topics.

This week we focus on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s multiemployer program. It covers 10 million unionized workers and retirees who receive pensions as part of collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers in the same industry. There are about 1,400 multiemployer plans.

More than 100 of those plans are facing insolvency, and that’s putting a lot of pressure on the PBGC. The agency said in its 2017 annual report that the multiemployer program had hit an all-time high deficit--$65 billion. That deficit has grown exponentially over the past 10 years.

There’s also been a growing number of multiemployer plans requiring financial assistance from the PBGC. In 1995, only nine plans asked for help. Seventy-two plans received financial assistance from PBGC in 2017.

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