Public pension funds in US states are facing their worst year of losses in history, exacerbating existing funding shortfalls and putting pressure on state governments to shore them up. In the nine months to the end of September, the average state pension fund lost 14.8 per cent. The loss has grown since, as financial markets slumped further in October. The previous highest loss for state funds was 7.9 per cent for the full year in 2002. State and local pension funds comprise a patchwork of 2,700 funds that manage $1,400bn on behalf of 21m employees, including teachers, firefighters and other municipal workers.