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July 15, 2002
Public Retirement Payments Reach Record $100B
Sta
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te and local government employee retirement systems paid $100 billion to 6 million retirees and survivors in fiscal year (FY) 2001, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau reported recently.

There were 2,208 retirement systems at that time, with a membership of 16.8 million persons, who could be eligible for regular benefit payments in the future.

The structure of retirement systems varied widely among the states. In some, state and local government employees were vested in a small number of statewide systems. Others had a large number of systems, many of these serving employees of individual local governments.

Every year the Census Bureau issues statistics on the financial activity of the nation's state and local public-employee retirement systems, including receipts, payments and cash, and security investment holdings. Findings for FY 2001 include:

- Illinois, with 377, and Pennsylvania, with 357, had the most public-employee retirement systems. In contrast, Hawaii and Maine had the fewest, with one system each that covered all public employees in their states.

- Receipts totaled $119 billion in fiscal 2001. These included earnings on investments ($54 billion), government contributions ($38 billion) and employee contributions ($27 billion).

- Payments amounted to $112 billion and consisted mostly of benefit payments to retirees and survivors ($100 billion).

- Cash and security investment holdings of state and local government employee retirement systems totaled $2.2 trillion, essentially unchanged from FY 2000, the first time such investment holdings topped the $2 trillion mark.

- Retirement systems distributed their investments among a variety of government securities, nongovernmental securities and other assets 11 percent of assets ($245 billion) was invested in governmental securities, 18 percent ($380 billion) in corporate bonds and 36 percent ($774 billion) in corporate stocks, the largest single category of investment holdings. The remaining assets were in cash and deposits, foreign and international securities and other investments.

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