As members of the baby boom generation age into retirement — approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day — more and more are relying on pension benefits for their main source of income.
Millions of aging teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and other state and local government employees depend on the income owed to them through defined benefit pension plans. Such plans require employees to contribute a portion of their salaries to a pool of funds that is invested on their behalf and is paid out to them in retirement.
Poor management of the pension funds at the state and local levels, however, has put those benefits at risk for many future retirees. According to nongovernmental organization The Pew Charitable Trusts, state pension systems currently have, on average, less than 70% of the assets they need to be able to pay out benefits owed to current or retired public employees. In some states, the gap is significantly smaller, while in others the pension funding gap is far worse.
To rank the severity of each state’s pension crisis, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average pension funding ratio — the market value of a pension fund as a percentage of the total benefits owed to current or retired public employees — for all 50 states as of 2017 with data from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
For more on state budgeting and economic performance, see the states with the best and worst economies, the best and worst states for business, and the best and worst run states in America: a survey of all 50.