State, Local Pensions Make Record Payouts in FY07

December 29, 2008 ( - State and local government pension systems paid out a record $168 billion to 7.5 million retirees and survivors in fiscal year 2007.

According to a press release from the U.S. Census Bureau, that represents 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.

Additional findings for fiscal year 2007 include:

  • Pennsylvania, with more than 900 (retirement systems), andIllinois, 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% ($1.2 trillion). Another 15% ($518.3 billion) was invested in foreign and international securities, and 13% ($448.5 billion) was invested in corporate bonds. The remaining assets were in governmental securities, real property, funds held in trust, and other investments.

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.

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