Guess What Else Took a Hit From Coronavirus? Oregon’s Public Pensions

They're weighted toward equities, which have cratered.

The Portland Building, and a trash can. (Mick Hangland-Skill)

The Big Number: 56

That's the percentage of the state's $81 billion Public Employee Retirement System fund invested in equities at the end of January. That allocation to stocks—in both publicly listed and private companies—is heavier than the Oregon Investment Council's target of 50 percent.

As of press deadline, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 26 percent for the year as the stock market cratered amid COVID-19's shutdown of much of the nation's economy. Oregon's heavy investment in equities means the state's losses could be even larger than expected, a big problem for all Oregonians. State and local governments pay their pension obligations mostly out of profits from equity investments and have promised most pensioners a 7.2 percent annual return.

BOTTOM LINE: The COVID-19 pandemic could be a disaster for the state's already massive unfunded pension liability.

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