State Retirement Systems
There are 2,547 public retirement systems in the U.S. 218 of them are state retirement systems. 16.8 million people are members of state retirement systems. 6.4 million people are beneficiaries receiving periodic benefit payments from state retirement systems.
Source: The Book of the States 2009, from U.S. Census Bureau data based on 2007 fiscal year figures
A $1 Trillion Gap
A new report from the Pew Center on the States finds a $1 trillion gap between the $2.35 trillion states have set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises. The report, The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Road to Reform, found in eight states more than one-third of the pension liability was unfunded as of the 2008 fiscal year, while two states—Illinois and Kansas—had less than 60 percent of the necessary assets on hand. The Government Accountability Office says 80 percent is the preferred benchmark funding level. For more information on this report, visit www.pewcenteronthestates.org.
Retiree Health Benefits Funding Gap
Note: States have funding gaps for retiree health benefits ranging from $48.75 per capita in North Dakota to $7,950.84 per capita in New Jersey. The gap is the difference between all accrued liabilities and any assets the employer, in this case the state, has set aside in an irrevocable trust for other post-employment benefits—known as OPEB, generally health benefits for retirees.