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PORTSIDELABOR  March 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDELABOR March 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Why Employee Pensions aren't Bankrupting States

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 7 Mar 2011 22:43:42 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

Why Employee Pensions aren't Bankrupting States
By Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Newspapers
The Miami Herald
March 06, 2011

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/06/109649/why-employee-pensions-arent-bankrupting.html

From state legislatures to Congress to tea party
rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are
perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state
and local government workers. However, that widespread
perception doesn't match reality.

A close look at state and local pension plans across
the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the
private sector, reveals a more complicated story.
However, the short answer is that there's simply no
evidence that state pensions are the current burden to
public finances that their critics claim.

Pension contributions from state and local employers
aren't blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9
percent of state spending, on average, according to the
National Association of State Retirement
Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at
Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8
percent.

Though there's no direct comparison, state and local
pension contributions approximate the burden shouldered
by private companies. The nonpartisan Employee Benefit
Research Institute estimates that retirement funding
for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of
employee compensation.

Nor are state and local government pension funds broke.
They're underfunded, in large measure because - like
the investments held in 401(k) plans by American
private-sector employees - they sunk along with the
entire stock market during the Great Recession of
2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made
by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on
firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts
all boats.

Boston College researchers project that if the assets
in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow
and there was no more growth in investment returns,
there would still be enough money in most state plans
to pay benefits for years to come.

"On average, with the assets on hand today, plans are
able to pay annual benefits at their current level for
another 13 years. This assumes, pessimistically, that
plans make no future pension contributions and there is
no growth in assets," said Jean-Pierre Aubry, a
researcher specializing in state and local pensions for
the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at
Boston College.

In 2006, when the economy was humming before the
financial crisis began, the value of assets in state
and local pension funds covered promised benefits for a
period of just over 19 years.

[For the rest of the article see:
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/06/109649/why-employee-pensions-arent-bankrupting.html

____________________________________________

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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