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General Electric Co.’s gaping pension deficit certainly stands out for its size. But the company is hardly the only one at risk of potentially shortchanging some employees come retirement.

All across corporate America, underfunded pensions have become the norm. Even now, a decade after the financial crisis, the largest plans face a shortfall of $269 billion, right about where they were 10 years ago. Years of low interest rates have largely offset gains in the stock market. Companies haven’t helped matters by lavishing money on shareholder rewards and clinging to assumptions about returns that proved to be too rosy.

The situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon, particularly if interest rates keep falling. Even though a banner year in both stocks and bonds lifted returns on the largest pensions by 12 percent this year, their liabilities have grown even faster, according to consulting firm Milliman. And while GE’s move to freeze benefits and set aside money will help trim its $22.4 billion pension shortfall by as much as $8 billion, CEO Larry Culp said last month that low rates could boost those same liabilities by roughly $7 billion.

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