January Off to Positive Start for All TSP Investors

All TSP funds had positive returns in January and for the past 12 months. Here are the results.

All investors in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) had positive TSP returns to start off the new year.

Highest and Lowest Fund Returns for Past 12 Months

The I fund, a frequent laggard behind the other funds in 2016, started off the new year with the best return of any of the funds. It had a positive return of 2.89% in January and is up 11.31% for the past twelve months.

Note that while a return of 11.31% is a good return, the C fund for the past 12 months is up 20.09%. The S fund is ahead of all of the funds for the past twelve months with a return of 30.02%.

Despite recent setbacks, major stock market indexes ended the month higher. This was the first time there have been January gains since 2013. The S&P 500 (the index on which the C fund is based) went up 1.8% for the month.

January was the third straight month of gains for the S and the C funds.

Comparing Bond Funds to Stock Funds

For more conservative investors, note that the L Income fund is up 5.17% for the past twelve months. The G fund is up 1.83%. Both of these funds are for conservative investors or a portion of investment funds that are not subject to as much risk as there is in the stock funds.

The funds with the lowest returns for the past 12 months are the G fund (1.83%) and the F fund (1.64%).

There is, of course, no guarantee stocks will continue to go up in 2017. The reason the L Income return rate is above both the G and F funds is, in part, due to the inclusion of stocks in the Income fund. TSP investors who choose to put all or most of their investments into the G fund often pay a significant price for the safety offered by the bonds in the G fund. This fund serves a valuable purpose in any portfolio. For long term investors, the rate of return for the G fund is often below the G fund.

Here are the returns for all of the TSP funds for January and for the past 12 months.

Rates of Return for All TSP Funds

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.20% 0.23% 1.90% 2.16% 2.89%
YTD 0.20% 0.23% 1.90% 2.16% 2.89%
12 Months 1.83% 1.64% 20.09% 30.22% 11.31%
L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month 0.61% 1.04% 1.48% 1.70% 1.91%
YTD 0.61% 1.04% 1.48% 1.70% 1.91%
12 Months 5.17% 9.36% 12.69% 14.57% 16.38%

TSP Withdrawals for December

In December 2016, TSP investors must have decided that the short-term future for the stock market was up. Investors transferred almost $2.1 billion out of the G fund and $696 million out of the F fund. $200 billion was transferred out of the I fund.

The S fund was the big winner in transfers into a fund. More than $1.7 billion moved into the S fund. Another $949 million was moved into the C fund. The lifecycle funds has positive transfers of $297 million.

Information About Your TSP Funds

As of the end of December 2016, the TSP completed over 3,500 roll-ins for the TSP. The total amount “rolled-in” was $1.19 billion—a 6% increase over 2015.

There are now over 5 million TSP plan participants. TSP assets are now over $495 billion.

Average Balances

Traditional Roth
FERS $122,518 $9,098
CSRS $126,936 $14,434
Military $20,010 $5,186

Participation Rates

89.3% of FERS employees are now participating in the TSP system. This is an historic high and up from 88.5% in 2015 and 87.5% in 2014.

60.9% of CSRS plan employees are now investing in the TSP. For active duty military personnel, their participation rate is 44.9%. That rate is likely to start going up when a new military retirement plan that includes the Thrift Savings Plan takes effect.

4% of federal employees who were automatically enrolled in the TSP opted out of plan participation.

How to Receive Daily TSP Return Rates

We post all of the daily TSP share prices (as well as monthly and annual returns) at TSPDataCenter.com.

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About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47