The report’s key findings are as follows:
- Public pension benefit dollars represent between one and three percent of GDP on average in the 2,922 counties studied.
- Rural counties have the highest percentages of their populations receiving public pension benefits.
- Small town counties experience a greater relative impact in terms of both GDP and total personal income from pension benefit dollars than rural or metropolitan counties.
- Rural counties see more of an impact in terms of personal income than metropolitan counties, while metropolitan counties and rural counties see an equivalent impact in terms of GDP.
- Counties that contain state capitals are outliers from other metropolitan counties, likely because there is a greater density of public employees in these counties, most of whom remain in these counties in retirement.
- On average, rural counties have lost population while small town counties and metropolitan counties have gained population in the period between 2000 and 2018, but the connection between population change and the relative impact of public pension benefit dollars is weak.
Author(s): Dan Doonan and Tyler Bond from NIRS, Nathan Chobo from Linea Solutions Inc.
Publication Date: July 2022
Publication Site: National Institute on Retirement Security