SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The nation’s largest public employee pension system says it beat its investment earnings target last year after several years of lackluster returns.

The California Public Employees Retirement System on Friday reported a preliminary return of 11.2 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Fund managers seek a 7 percent average annual return.

CalPERS says the pension fund has $323 billion in assets, enough to cover 68 percent of payments owed to its 1.8 million members.

The strong investment performance was driven by strong performance of public and private equity markets.

Robust investment performance helps public employers including the state, school districts and local governments that are facing steep increases in their pension costs to fill the gap between assets and promised benefits.