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Jay Mather / The Sacramento Bee

A courtyard at CalPERS’ Sacramento headquarters

CalPERS says retiree benefits generate $30 billion in economic activity

Published: Thursday, Apr. 3, 2014 - 9:38 am

The economic ripple of benefits paid to CalPERS’ retirees and their family members generated tens of billions of dollars in economic activity in fiscal 2011-12, the fund reported Tuesday, while CalPERS’ investments poured billions more into the state.

Pension spending generated about $30.4 billion of goods and services consumption for the year, CalPERS figures, compared with $2.8 billion that employers contributed to their employees’ pension accounts. That works out to a ratio of $10.85 of economic activity per $1 of taxpayer spending on pensions. (The figure doesn’t factor in what employees contribute to their pensions.)

The money spent from retirement benefits created nearly 114,000 jobs statewide, CalPERS said, with the largest gains seen in the restaurant/bar sector (12,745 jobs), the medical industry (6,722 jobs) and real estate establishments (6,120 jobs).

CalPERS arrived at the estimates by feeding pension data into a widely-used computer model that takes an array of factors into account to determine how retiree spending triggers economic activity in California.

Fund investments in the state totaled $20.7 billion for that same year, according to the report, “CalPERS Economic Impacts in California.” Those investments in turn support some 1.5 million jobs statewide, the fund estimates.

CalPERS Economic Impacts in California

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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