A look at today’s pension equity plans

Source: William J. Wiatrowski, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Beyond the Numbers, Vol. 4 No. 7, April 2015

The decline in the share of workers covered by traditional pension plans over the past 35 years is marked by a variety of efforts to transform these plans into vehicles that can continue to provide retirement income to workers while stabilizing the financial responsibility for employers. For example, collective bargaining disputes often involve give-and-take on the future generosity of pension benefits. Likewise, state governments have introduced less generous pension tiers for new employees as part of fiscal belt-tightening. Among the changes in pension plans tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) since the late 1970s are different formulas for calculating benefits. One of those formula types is the pension equity plan, or PEP. These plans were first identified by BLS private industry surveys conducted in the late 1990s; today, they make up a small share of all pension plans. This issue of Beyond the Numbers examines the concept behind pension equity plans and looks at some unique features of these plans.