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State Pension Costs Continue To Climb

October 04, 2007

New York ranked second in the nation for total benefit payments to state and local government workers in fiscal 2005-06, with $18.7 billion in total payments, according to new Census Bureau data.

New York's average benefit payment of $24,293 per recipient last year was 16-percent higher than the national average, ranking sixth highest overall among the states.  In 2005, New York's average benefit per recipient was $23,891, the eighth highest in any state.

The data also show New York taxpayers disproportionally funded the state's pension-benefit payments to government workers. Employee contributions were just 2.5 percent of pension fund receipts in 2006, down from 3.5 percent in 2005. In fact, while New York ranked sixth in terms of average benefit payments per recipient last year, the state ranked 45th for employee-paid state- and local-pension contributions.

Complete data from the latest pension report can be downloaded at the Empire Center's Data Bank page, under the "Cost of Government" category.

For an analysis of New York's pension-system structure and what can be done to control the state's pension spending, see the Empire Center's report, "Defusing New York's Pension Bomb."