PERS Contribution Rates and Investment Returns Chart

Robert Fellner

Two years ago, NPRI noted that costs for the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS) have increased fourfold since inception.

The below chart is an update of that post, which includes data through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016:

Obviously, the alarming trend has continued unabated. As a result of continued growth in the System’s unfunded liability — now at an all-time high of $13.5 billion — contribution rates for regular employees have risen to 28 percent of payroll, leaving new members “net losers” while also contributing to Nevada’s teacher shortage.

It’s important to note that, for actuarial purposes, the investment returns displayed above reflects a smoothing of gains and losses to mute the impact of any individual year. So while PERS actual investment gain for the 2016 fiscal year was only 2.3 percent, the System reported an actuarial return of 7.7 percent, due to previously unrecognized investment gains.

This leaves PERS with nearly $900 million in unrecognized losses going forward, which will be incrementally absorbed by the System over the next four years. Unless the System outperforms its 8 percent assumed annual rate of return over that time period, debt will rise faster than anticipated, resulting in even higher contribution rates.

To learn more about PERS, please visit

Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Policy Director

Robert Fellner joined the Nevada Policy in December 2013 and currently serves as Policy Director. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also developed and directed Nevada Policy’s public-interest litigation strategy, which led to two landmark victories before the Nevada Supreme Court. The first resulted in a decision that expanded the public’s right to access government records, while the second led to expanded taxpayer standing for constitutional challenges in Nevada.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider,, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register,, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.