Pension disbursements to retired state workers generated more than $6.5 billion in economic activity last year and helped support more than 35,000 jobs, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association.
The study, conducted by Boulder-based Pacey Economics, showed that the $4.1 billion in PERA pension payments to more than 100,600 Colorado residents had a positive benefit to local economies, particularly in rural parts of the state.
That's a 67 percent increase in PERA disbursements over 2009, when the association made about $2.45 billion in pension payments. The study attributed the increase to a large number of baby boomers who have retired over the past decade.
In the western region of Colorado, which stretches from San Miguel to Moffat counties, about $262 million was distributed to more than 7,500 recipients last year, constituting nearly 6 percent of all payroll in the 10-county region.
Those payments play a big role in helping local communities maintain stable economies, the study says.
"PERA distributions provide reliable, predictable income allowing for an automatic stabilizing effect on state, regional and local economic downturns as these monies provide important stimulus in maintaining market activity," the study says. "Although smaller numbers of PERA participants reside outside the metro Denver region, the monetary impact of PERA distributions on maintaining the health of the regions in more rural areas is substantial."
According to the study, more than $134 million was paid to recipients in Mesa County last year, with those retirees paying more than $6 million in sales and property taxes.
Add to that the nine other counties in the region and the figure increases to more than $10 million in tax payments. "The $4.1 billion in PERA distributions to Colorado residents results in $6.47 billion in output (from) goods and services transactions, $2.89 billion in value-added state gross domestic product, $1.62 billion in labor income, which measures worker impact in wages, 35,031 jobs and $343.4 million in state and local tax revenues," the study says. "This economic output is an increase from $6.09 billion in 2016, further stabilizing state and local economies."
PERA provides retirement and other benefits to more than 587,000 current and former state and local government workers, including teachers, state troopers, corrections officers and snowplow drivers.