S Fund Up; I Fund Down for TSP Investors

The S fund performed well in May and for the year. The I fund did not. Here are the results.

S Fund On Top

For the second month in a row, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) investors with assets in the S fund will be happy. The S fund has led the pack of TSP funds for two months in a row and is now also the fund with the best return for the year-to-date (YTD) and for the past 12 months.

While a monthly return of 0.86% for the S fund may not sound like much, it adds up. The S fund is also up 6.17% so far in 2018 and up 16.85% for the past 12 months.

I Fund Returns Fall

On the other hand, the I fund, unlike its performance in 2017, is not faring as well. It was down -1.2% in June and is now down -2.44% so far in 2018. It does still have a positive return for the past 12 months of 7.25%. (The I fund had a total return of 25.42% in 2017, the best return among TSP funds.)

Bulls and bears betting (or hoping) on whether the market would go up or down ended the second quarter of the year without a clear winner. The S&P 500 index was up 2.3% in the first six months of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average went down -1.2% during the same time frame. For this same time, the C fund was up 2.6%.

In effect, the minor movement shows stock market indices are still in the tight trading range they have occupied for months. Also, both indices are in their longest time in “correction” mode since 2008.

Check out all of the monthly return rates for the TSP at TSPDataCenter.com.

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

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.24% -0.10% 0.61% 0.86% -1.20%
YTD 1.37% -1.56% 2.63% 6.17% -2.44%
 12 Month 2.53% -0.27% 14.34% 16.85% 7.25%


L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month 0.19% 0.17% 0.14% 0.13% 0.12%
YTD 1.32% 1.34% 1.46% 1.49% 1.54%
 12 Month 4.39% 6.07% 8.59%  9.71% 10.76%

TSP Participation Rate and Average Balances

The participation rate in the TSP for those in the FERS retirement system is 90.7%. The participation rate for military personnel is also going up and is now at a new high of 52.2%. That participation rate is likely to increase in view of the recent significant changes made to the military retirement system.

There are now more than 3.3 million participants in the TSP who are in the FERS system. Their average balance is $140,387. 490,496 FERS participants are also Roth participants in the TSP and their average Roth balance is $12,249.

There are now only 326,317 TSP participants who are in the older CSRS retirement system. Their average balance is $145,061. 9,981 CSRS employees are Roth participants and their average Roth balance is $18,826.

Investment Actions by TSP Participants

In May, TSP participants withdrew about $533 million from the C fund and $357 million from the I fund. The S and L funds received much of this money with $381 million going into the S fund and $391 million into the lifecycle funds.The G and F funds also had relatively small positive inflows for the month.

Check out all of the TSP rates based on yearly, monthly or daily returns at TSPDataCenter.com.

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