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Retirees in Action

   Jim Carr  A message from PEF Retiree President Jim Carr

Retirees contribute to NYS economy, but pension funds hit by downturns, too

As of March 31, 2019, approximately 380,000 New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) retirees lived in New York state. The pension money they receive flows directly back into our communities, stimulating and growing our local economies.

During 2018, NYSLRS retirees were responsible for $12.6 billion in economic activity in New York State. The goods and services retirees use create opportunities for new businesses in New York, help grow existing companies and create jobs. NYSLRS retirees are particularly important to merchants because their retirement income provides a stable foundation of customers for local businesses.

After a career working for the people of New York, NYSLRS retirees continue to contribute — not just as engaged citizens, but as individuals who bring value to the communities where they live.  As of March 31, 2019, 73 percent of the cost of pension benefits came from investment income, not taxpayers.

Schools, roads and government services of every sort — they all have something in common: NYSLRS retirees help make them possible with the taxes they pay.

In 2018, retirees paid $1.95 billion in real-property taxes — that’s 3.1 percent of the total collected in New York. In some areas of the state, this figure is even higher. In the north country, retirees pay 7.6 percent, and in the Capital District, 8.9 percent of the property taxes collected

Spending by NYSLRS retirees and their beneficiaries generated an estimated $710 million in 2018.  Retirees give back in many ways.

Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic is driving market volatility for public pension systems.

A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College anticipates the COVID-related market volatility will result in significant underperformance of public pension funds in 2020.

However, it also notes that most funds over-performed expectations in 2019. Additionally, the study recognizes that most funds have assets to compensate for shortfalls in the short term.

New York’s Public Employee Retirement Systems are among the best funded and managed. Still, there are concerns about long term economic assumptions as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Concerns have been heightened in recent weeks as virus surges are apparent worldwide, with the U.S. infection spikes and lack of coherent policy driving a market roller-coaster. Read a synopsis of the study here


We retirees are engaged in our local community and are affected by the impact of the current pandemic.  We need to keep ourselves safe, engaged, healthy, and informed about our earned benefits and the political climate.  We need to promote ourselves for the contributions we make to the community we live in and the economy of New York.

The source of this information is the NYS Comptroller’s website and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

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