Wyoming’s retired public employees are the cornerstone of Wyoming’s past, present – and they can help stabilize our future, too. Throughout their careers, public employees contributed to our state. Now, in their retirement, they represent an essential source of economic activities in our local communities.
State and local government retirees “provide a steady economic stimulus to Wyoming communities and the state economy.” That’s according to a recent report from the National Institute on Retirement Security.
In 2018 alone, nearly 38,000 Wyoming retirees and their spending helped to drive:
- 5,121 jobs that paid $219 million in wages and salaries
- $891.5 million in total economic output
- $129.4 million in federal, state and local tax revenues
What’s impressive about this impact is that the average pension benefit was $1,749 per month, or $20,991 per year. These extremely modest benefits provide crucial income for retired teachers, public safety personnel and others who served the public during their lifetime.
Sherrill Helzer, a retired special education teacher, says, “As a retired special education teacher, I look back on my years and hope that I made a positive future in my students' lives. Many times, as I hear from former students and/or their parents, I am assured that I did.” Her lifetime of contributions to our state earned her a modest retirement, and she continues to support her local community with those earnings.
According to NIRS, every dollar paid out to a retiree translates into $1.12 in economic activity for the state of Wyoming. Every dollar spent from Wyoming taxpayers translates into $6.90 in economic activity in Wyoming.
Earnings on investments and employee contributions – not taxpayer contributions – have historically made up the majority of pension fund receipts. Between 1993 and 2018, more than 70% came from investment earnings; only 16% of Wyoming’s pension fund receipts came from employer contributions, with a similar amount coming from employee contributions.