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For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 25, 2017

2016 Annual Survey of Public Pensions

Note: The dollar amount for total pension contributions that public-sector retirees receive for the nation has been corrected and is in bold below. Please disregard the previous version of the news graphic.

"Nationally, public-sector retirees receive $1.48 for every $1.00 of total pension contributions."

Sound bites (downloadable)

Attribute to: Phillip Vidal, Chief, Pension Statistics Branch, U.S. Census Bureau

1) What are Public Pensions?

Available on YouTube

The latest release of the Annual Survey of Public Pensions highlights the importance of public pensions to the economies of state and local governments. Public pensions own 3.7 trillion dollars in assets that they use to provide benefits to more than 10 million beneficiaries nationwide.

2) What does the Public Pensions data tell us?

Available on YouTube

The most noticeable change in the data for 2016 is that earnings on investment have declined from more than 150 billion dollars in 2015 to less than 50 billion dollars in 2016. This is due in part because public pensions hold more than 80 percent of their assets in securities whose value can change along with the market.

3) Who is most affected by these changes?

 Available on YouTube

The 2016 data also show the continuation of two trends. The first is that employer contributions continue to increase, with a 6 percent increase over 2015. The second is that the number of beneficiaries continues to increase cresting 10 million for the first time ever in 2016 with a 3 percent increase over 2015.

Related upcoming releases

  • 2016 Survey of Public Pensions: State and Local Data Report

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