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The funded status of defined-benefit pensions has deteriorated again so far this year, leaving companies with quite a hole to climb out and suggesting more plan sponsors will freeze or close their plans. “2012 so far has been a difficult year for pension plan sponsors,” says Jonathan Barry, who leads Mercer’s defined-benefit risk consulting efforts for its U.S. retirement risk and finance business. “Even though we’ve had decent equity returns for the year, interest rates have dropped so much that the majority of U.S. pension funds’ funded status has declined.”

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