BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s state pension systems are critical to working families and retirees across the state, and also serve as key economic drivers in every city, town and parish in Louisiana. Particularly in rural areas, public pension benefits are a substantial source of personal income and economic activity.
Altogether, Louisiana’s pension systems pay out more than $4 billion in benefits to 164,000 retirees and their families every year—an amount equivalent to 2 percent of all personal income in the state. That’s up from 1.7 percent in 2014, illustrating how state pension payments have become even more important as a source of income and economic stability in the wake of the recent economic downturn in Louisiana.
A new report by Jeanie Donovan of the Louisiana Budget Project, “Pensions in the Parishes 2017,” looks at how Louisiana’s pension systems impact each parish, and shows the combined economic impact of the three largest state retirement systems (LASERS, TRSL, and LSPRS). While the largest parishes tend to have the most state retirees, when benefits are calculated as a share of each parish’s personal income, it is clear that pensions are especially crucial to the economic health and retirement security of smaller and more rural parishes. In some rural parishes, pensions account for as much as 2.5 percent to 4 percent of all personal income.
“When considering changes to state retirement systems, policymakers should keep in mind the impact pensions have in supporting local businesses and jobs in every parish across the state,” LBP Director Jan Moller said. “For example, in West Feliciana Parish, payments from the state’s three largest pension systems total 3.4 percent of all personal income and nearly 19 percent of all retirement income in the parish. That steady source of income is vital to the parish’s economy, where one in five residents live below the poverty line.”
To read the full report, click here.