The media may report large profit numbers of “big oil” in a fashion that makes their success seem shameful. But, it’s those profits that will allow millions of public employees across the nation to retire with a solid nest egg.

State pension fund investments in oil and natural gas companies are providing strong returns for teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public pension funds, according to a study released by the American Petroleum Institute.

Returns on oil and natural gas assets in the top two state funds averaged 42 cents for each dollar invested compared to just 6 cents for other assets in these funds from 2005 to 2009.

“During good economic times – or challenging once – oil and natural gas investments far outperformed other public pension holdings,” said Kyle Isakower, API vice president of regulatory and economic policy. “We already know that a healthy domestic oil and natural gas industry is good news for jobs and government revenue, and we now know that it also provides stability to the nest eggs that millions of Americans are counting on for a secure retirement.”

Oil and natural gas stocks make up an average of 4.6 percent of holdings in the top public pension funds, but equaled 15.7 percent of the returns in these funds over the five-year time period.

“Millions of Americans with a 401k, mutual fund, or pension also rely on the income and capital growth these companies provide for their retirement,” Isakower said. “And all Americans benefit from the job creation and economic growth supported by the more than $2 trillion invested in U.S. capital projects over the past decade, including more than $58 billion in low and zero emitting technologies.”