Pensions by the Numbers

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Here’s a roundup of revealing figures and interesting survey stats regarding a topic that’s certainly known for get people worked up, so to speak.

50-50 In a Pew Research poll regarding solutions to state budget gaps, the public was asked which specific proposals to cut spending or increase taxes it would support. The proposal that received the most support was for states to decrease spending on government employee pensions—though just as many people polled (47% to 47%, actually) said the government should not cut pensions.

81 Percentage of people who answered “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” to the statement “I believe that all workers should have access to a pension plan so they can be independent and self-reliant in retirement” in a recent National Institute on Retirement survey.

3,000 Dizzying number of different pension plans in Pennsylvania.

$24,500 The average annual pension for a public employee in Wisconsin, who makes roughly $54,000 a year. Another estimate put the average annual pension for a Wisconsin state retiree at $26,500.

$67,000 The amount a fairly typical public employee in California is collecting annually if he worked for 30 years and retired a couple of years ago.

$230,000 The annual amount a retired administrator in suburban Illinois, who held a total of ten public job titles, receives from his pension.

$43,320.53 The amount per month that one man in California—the retired city administrator in the town of Vernon—receives from his pension. The princely sum, which totals over $500K a year, is the result of double dipping—make that hextuple dipping, since he held six different jobs at the same time.

176 Number of state retirees in Massachusetts collecting pensions over $100,000 a year. Last year, 145 state retirees had hit the $100K pension mark, representing a rise of 20%. Either years ago, only 33 state retirees had pensions over $100K.

Nearly 15,000 Number of state retirees in California collection pensions over $100,000 a year.

210 Number of city workers in Costa Mesa, Calif., who recently received layoff notices because of pension costs, according to city leaders. The city had employed a total of 472 workers before the layoffs.

1 Number of suicides related to the Costa Mesa layoffs: Shortly after the layoff notices arrived, a maintenance worker jumped off the roof of city hall.

90.4 The replacement percentage in Colorado, the state with the most generous rate of replacing retired public employees’ salaries.

$500 billion Estimated shortfall for state funding the pensions of teachers alone. The total shortfall for health care and pension benefits for police, administrators, and all other public workers is estimated to be $1 trillion.

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