TSP Returns in 2021: One Fund Soaring Almost 26%

One TSP Fund has provided a return of 25.99% so far in 2021. This fund is up 2.29% so far in December. One core TSP Fund has a negative return in 2021.

The federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) has had a volatile year. While there are a few trading days remaining in 2021, TSP investors have generally fared well. With some panic about a new variant of COVID evident in the market, the last few days of the year are likely to continue to experience this volatility. (Check out all TSP returns by month.)

C Fund Leads All TSP Funds in 2021

As of the close of the markets on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the C Fund is up almost 27% for the year.

While the other funds have generally had a good year, with the exception of the F Fund, the 2nd place fund is the I Fund which is up 9.71%—a good return but far behind the C Fund.

Here are the year-to-date returns for all of the TSP Funds as of December 16th, 2021.

G Fund1.32%
F Fund-1.32%
C Fund25.99%
S Fund8.21%
I Fund9.71%
L Income4.85%
L 20258.67%
L 203010.89%
L 203511.81%
L 204012.73%
L 204513.48%
L 205014.28%
L 205517.35%
L 206017.34%
L 206517.34%
2021 Year-to-Date Returns for TSP Funds as of December 16, 2021

Monthly TSP Returns in December

Below is a chart displaying the monthly returns for the core TSP Funds so far for the month of December through December 16, 2021.

So far in December, the I Fund has the best rate of return which has contributed to this fund being the fund with the second-highest return among the core TSP Funds so far in 2021.

For comparison, the I Fund did well in 2020 with a return of 8.17%. That return, however, was considerably behind the S Fund with a return of 31.85%, and the C Fund with a yearly return in 2020 of 18.31%.

FundReturn %
G Fund0.06
F Fund-0.17
C Fund2.29
S Fund-3.21
I Fund3.45
December Month-to-Date Returns for TSP Funds as of December 16, 2021

TSP Facts and Figures

Hardship Withdrawals and TSP Loans

Hardship withdrawals from the TSP are continuing to go up in 2021 and the number of loans issued by the TSP in 2021 is on track to be lower than in 2020.

The participation rate for federal employees under the FERS system is now at 94.5%. The participation rate for active duty uniformed service members is now at 78.2% which is a new high.

TSP Balances

The average balance in the TSP for those under the FERS system was $177,410 at the end of November. The average Roth balance for FERS members was $22,276. There are 3,760,559 FERS employees who are participants in the TSP.

The total number of participants for those under the CSRS retirement system is now down to 275,564. Their average TSP balance is $192,086 and their average Roth balance is $30,984.

The total assets in the TSP at the end of November were almost $793 billion.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, as of September 30, 2021, 1.3% of current federal employees were members of the Civil Service Retirement System and 94.54% were under the Federal Employees Retirement System.

TSP Participants and Average Balance – November 2021

Total Number of ParticipantsAverage BalanceNumber of Roth ParticipantsAverage Roth Balance
Uniformed Services1,355,109$38,996617,867$17,267
BRS Participants1,063,549$10,349606,854$9,319
Bene Participants35,380$139,0232,058$14,304

Interfund Transfers in November and Percentage in Each Core Fund

In November, TSP participants withdrew more than $2.4 billion from the G Fund, $353 million from the F Fund, and $63 million from the I Fund. More than $2.2 billion went into the S Fund and $492 million was transferred into the C Fund.

As of November 30, 2021, the G Fund has assets of $268 billion (33.8% of the core fund assets) and the C fund had assets of $312.5 billion (39.4% of the core fund assets). 8.5% of the core fund assets are in the I Fund, 13.6% are in the S Fund and 4.7% are in the F Fund.

Nominees for the FRTIB and FLRA

In August, the White House announced nominees to fill positions at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) and the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).

To date, the Senate has not confirmed any of these nominees.

Stay Current With TSP Returns

The final 2021 rate of return for all of the funds in the Thrift Savings Plan will be published on TSPDataCenter.com on January 1, 2022.

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