New TSP Fund Leader in May

Which TSP fund had the best returns in May?

Latest Trends for TSP Returns

Most of the funds in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) had positive returns for May. The exception to this trend was the I fund which dropped 2.13%. As a result the I fund is no longer the leader for the year-to-date or for the past 12 months.

For those TSP investors who follow the latest trends, the I fund was the leader in all of these categories at this time last month. (See Best TSP Fund For Month, YTD and Past 12 Months?) The political turmoil in Italy and the impact on markets there undoubtedly impacted the recent I fund returns in the short term.

Leading TSP Fund for May, YTD and Past 12 Months

The front-running TSP fund is now the S fund. It was the big winner for May with a positive return of 4.85%. It is now the leader for all of the TSP fund—up 5.26% for the year and up 18.55% for the past twelve months.

The C fund has been holding its own as well. It was up 2.41% in May and has returned 14.35% in the past twelve months.

One TSP Fund With a Negative Return

The only TSP fund with a negative return so far in 2018 and also with a negative return for the past 12 months is the F fund. While it had a positive return in May, it is down 1.46% so far in 2018 and is down 0.26% over the past 12 months.

Check out all of the monthly return rates for the TSP at

TSP Fund Returns for May 2018, Year-to-Date and Last 12 Months

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.24% 0.73% 2.41% 4.85% -2.13%
YTD 1.13% -1.46% 2.00% 5.26% -1.25%
 12 Month 2.48% -0.26% 14.35% 18.55% 8.36%


L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month 0.50% 0.66% 0.98% 1.13% 1.26%
YTD 1.13% 1.16% 1.32% 1.36% 1.42%
 12 Month 4.46% 6.26% 8.94%  10.14% 11.27%

Unemployment Down, Wages Up

With all of the screaming headlines about the economy and the stock market, it is easy to miss the fact the U.S. economy is going strong.  The latest unemployment rate figure is now at an 18-year low. American employers added jobs at a faster pace and wages are up slightly

The unemployment rate for women is now at its lowest point since 1953. And, in that era, the reason for the low unemployment rate for women was largely due to a much smaller percentage of women seeking jobs outside the home. With America’s economy going strong,  jobless rates for blacks, Latinos and those without high-school diplomas are also at or near record low levels.

Wages for nonsupervisory employees are now going up faster rate than overall wage increases. The latest increase for nonsupervisory employees was up 2.8% in the past year. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is best annual gain since 2009, when a recession had just ended.

But, for those readers who are wondering, the best guess for a wage increase for federal employees in 2019 remains at a strong possibility of no overall pay raise. There was an average pay raise for federal employees of 1.9% in January 2018. This does not include raises due to promotions or quality step increases which are largely based on longevity in federal employment.

The overall federal pay raise of 1.9% was less than the COLA for Social Security recipients and federal retirees which was 2% and started in January 2018. (See Your 2019 COLA and Federal Employee Pay Raise)

Are You a TSP Millionaire?

What does all of this mean for TSP investors? Will you become one of the TSP millionaires? (See How Many Millionaires Are There in the TSP?)

Market sectors (I fund, S fund or C Fund, for example) go up and down all the time. Trying to guess which fund will do the best in coming months is largely a matter of luck.

The most successful investors in the TSP, usually among the number who have achieved millionaire status, usually report that they stay invested in the TSP and ignore the daily headlines. Reacting to recent events can easily lead to selling fund shares when they are down or buying them after the go up. Having an investment plan and sticking to it can help control emotional investing based on the latest scary headlines.

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