Milliman presented a mid-year update to their annual Multiemployer Pension Funding Study, based on a survey of 1251 plans as of June 2019. In the first half of the year, multi-employer pension plans saw an improvement in their funded status from 74% at the end of 2018 to 82% at the end of June 2019. Milliman based their analysis on an assumed discount rate of 7.24% (which is also the assumed rate of return used by plan actuaries). This rate was about 2% lower than assumptions for the previous year.
A key driver to the improvement in funded status was investment return, which was about 13.4% in the first half of 2019. As of that point, plans recovered much of the losses sustained at the end of 2018. Also, Milliman reported that a significant number of plans saw an improvement, with over half of the multi-employer plans reported to be about 90% funded or better.