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Public Retirement Benefit Payments Reach Record $168 Billion

      State and local government defined-benefit employee retirement systems paid $168 billion to 7.5 million retirees and survivors in fiscal year 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This is a $12 billion increase from the previous year when 7.3 million received payments.

      There were 2,547 retirement systems in 2007, with memberships of 18.6 million people who could be eligible for regular benefit payments in the future.

      The structure of retirement systems varies widely among states. In some jurisdictions, state and local government employees are vested in a small number of statewide systems. Others had a large number of systems, many of these serving only employees of individual local governments.

      Each year, the Census Bureau issues statistics on the financial activity of the nation's state and local public-employee retirement systems, including receipts, payments and cash and security investment holdings. Data are shown for individual retirement systems as well as aggregate national, state and local levels.

      Findings for fiscal year 2007 include:

  • Pennsylvania, with more than 900 (retirement systems), and Illinois, with more than 350, had the most public-employee retirement systems. In contrast, Hawaii and Maine had the fewest: each had one system to serve all public employees in their states.
  • Receipts totaled $580.5 billion in fiscal 2007. These included earnings on investments ($473.5 billion), government contributions ($72.9 billion) and employee contributions ($34.1 billion).
  • Payments including withdrawals amounted to $183.0 billion and consisted mostly of benefit payments to retirees and survivors ($162.7 billion).
  • Cash and security investment holdings of state and local government employee retirement systems totaled $3.4 trillion.
  • Retirement systems distributed their investments among a variety of government securities, nongovernmental securities and other assets. The largest single category of investment holdings was corporate stocks, comprising 36 percent ($1.2 trillion). Another 15 percent ($518.3 billion) was invested in foreign and international securities and 13 percent ($448.5 billion) was invested in corporate bonds. The remaining assets were in governmental securities, real property, funds held in trust and other investments.

      The Internet tables are from the State and Local Government Public Employee Retirement Systems Census for fiscal year 2007. Since the data in these tables are from a census of all public employee retirement systems, the data are not subject to sampling variability, but are subject to coverage, response and processing errors as well as errors of nonresponse. For more information on the data limitations, definitions and methodology, see <http://www.census.gov/govs/www/retire07content.html>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: February 10, 2014