Massive underfunding of multi-employer pension programs could lead to the insolvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in less than a decade, according to a report the federal pension backstop released Friday.
A bankruptcy would force a drastic reduction in the benefits going to workers whose own pension funds have gone belly-up.
The problem is simple: Too many of the plans have not been adequately funded. "While multi-employer plans are typically less well funded than single-employer plans, most multi-employer plans are projected to remain solvent over the next 20 years. However, a core group of plans appears unable to raise contributions sufficiently to avoid insolvency," the report said.
An estimated 14,000 multi-employer plans cover 10 million people in the U.S. The multi-employer pension system is funded at only 41 percent, which translates to an estimated $610 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to the House Education and the Workforce Committee.