What is the average pension for a public employee in Illinois?

8 Jun

This is an important question; however, this can be difficult to accurately state and can be calculated numerous ways. Based on Census Bureau data, the 2009 national average public pension benefit was approximately $23,400 per year, and the Illinois average public pension benefit was approximately $27,400 per year1.

Below is a table showing the average annual pension for retirees in Illinois’ state retirement systems for fiscal year 20102. It is important to remember that nearly 80% of members of these systems do not receive social security.

System Name Average Annual Pension
Illinois Judges’ Retirement System $112,548
Illinois State Employees’ Retirement System $31,981
Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System $44,844
Illinois State University Retirement System (Defined Benefit Members Only) $33,960
Illinois General Assembly Retirement System $49,788
Weighted Average Annual Pension $39,231

The weighted average annual pension presented above ($39,231) differs from the Census Bureau figure ($27,400) for several reasons. First, the Census Bureau data is from 2009 (the most recent data set), while the data for the weighted average is from fiscal year 2010. Secondly, the Census Bureau data is meant to be representative of all public employee retirement systems, whereas the weighted average examines only five pension systems. Also, the Census Bureau calculation is an arithmetic mean (the most common way to calculate an average). A weighted average is a more appropriate calculation because the five public pension systems used in the table all have different numbers of retirees and different average pensions. A weighted average takes into account the different numbers of retirees and different pension amounts, while a normal average does not. It is not possible to calculate a weighted average using Census Bureau data. Lastly the weighted average annual pension ($39,231) is based off of only retiree benefits, whereas the national statistic includes survivor and disability beneficiaries.

1. Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2011. State and Local Government-Employee Retirement Systems. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 data. Please note that the Census Bureau’s data provides only aggregate information, and a weighted average would provide a more accurate figure.

2. Average annual pension figures for individual systems are derived from the retirement systems’ Fiscal Year 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, and the average annual pension is a weighted average calculated by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.



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