How Illinois’ Pension Shortfall Compares to Other States

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In much of the country, public pension funding has been one of the most persistent public policy problems. For years, many state governments have failed to make necessary investments in their retirement system, resulting in funding gaps that increasingly present a looming reckoning for taxpayers.

Accordin​​g to a recent report published by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a public policy think tank, many states are now taking earnest measures to reduce their pension funding gap. These measures include increased contributions, cost reduction strategies, and more sophisticated pension management tools. States have also benefited from once-in-a-generation investment returns following the COVID-19 market crash in March 2020.

Still, based on 2019 data, the most recent year of available comprehensive data, the majority of states have a funding shortfall of 25% or more.

Illinois has the most underfunded pension system in the United States. Illinois’ state pension system has liabilities totalling $237.9 billion, yet only $92.6 billion in pension assets — enough to cover only 38.9% of its obligations to retired state workers.

One of the largest challenges Illinois faces in closing its $145.3 billion pension gap is the mandated cost of living adjustments. Retired state employees in Illinois receive a 3% annual cost of living increase, regardless of the actual inflation rate.

All pension funding data used in this story was compiled by The Pew Charitable Trusts and is for 2019. We also considered public-sector, state-level employment, both in raw numbers and as a share of overall employment, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rank State Pension funding ratio Pension assets ($, billions) Pension liabilities ($, billions) State government employees
1 Wisconsin 103.0% 112.1 108.9 89,800
2 South Dakota 100.1% 12.5 12.5 17,300
3 Tennessee 98.2% 41.1 41.8 95,500
4 Washington 96.3% 100.9 104.8 142,700
5 New York 96.1% 215.2 223.9 254,600
6 Idaho 94.6% 17.7 18.8 30,100
7 Nebraska 93.1% 15.2 16.3 42,500
8 Utah 91.7% 35.2 38.4 81,200
9 North Carolina 88.4% 101.4 114.6 196,100
10 Iowa 85.4% 34.8 40.7 67,100
11 Maine 84.3% 15.1 17.9 24,600
12 Delaware 83.4% 10.2 12.2 32,200
13 West Virginia 83.4% 15.9 19.1 46,900
14 Minnesota 82.2% 70.8 86.1 98,900
15 Oklahoma 80.7% 33.2 41.1 79,700
16 Oregon 80.2% 70.2 87.5 41,300
17 Arkansas 80.0% 28.6 35.7 76,200
18 Ohio 80.0% 168.4 210.5 168,000
19 Georgia 78.7% 95.6 121.6 162,500
20 Florida 78.2% 163.9 209.5 246,400
21 Missouri 77.8% 59.9 77.0 100,200
22 Virginia 77.2% 79.8 103.3 157,300
23 Nevada 76.5% 44.3 57.9 40,200
24 Wyoming 76.5% 9.0 11.8 13,600
25 Montana 72.5% 11.9 16.4 27,400
26 California 71.9% 474.3 659.4 521,600
27 Maryland 71.6% 54.3 75.8 108,100
28 Kansas 69.9% 20.6 29.5 50,700
29 North Dakota 69.8% 5.9 8.4 21,400
30 Alabama 69.4% 38.5 55.5 117,000
31 Texas 69.0% 186.8 270.7 426,400
32 Indiana 68.6% 30.8 44.9 108,900
33 Alaska 67.4% 15.2 22.6 22,500
34 New Mexico 67.3% 29.2 43.4 53,700
35 Louisiana 66.9% 36.8 54.9 86,800
36 Colorado 66.5% 51.8 77.9 126,600
37 New Hampshire 65.5% 9.2 14.1 22,400
38 Arizona 65.2% 49.9 76.6 89,800
39 Vermont 63.7% 4.5 7.1 17,800
40 Mississippi 61.7% 28.6 46.4 57,400
41 Michigan 61.1% 65.0 106.4 178,800
42 Massachusetts 59.4% 58.3 98.1 122,600
43 Pennsylvania 58.0% 89.8 154.8 148,600
44 South Carolina 55.4% 32.3 58.3 103,500
45 Hawaii 54.9% 17.2 31.4 67,000
46 Rhode Island 54.5% 6.6 12.1 20,400
47 Kentucky 44.6% 24.0 53.7 90,800
48 Connecticut 44.4% 32.0 72.1 71,000
49 New Jersey 39.7% 82.3 207.1 138,700
50 Illinois 38.9% 92.6 237.9 147,000

Region: Northern,Region: Kankakee,News

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September 22, 2021 at 09:08AM

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