The Pacey Economic and Fiscal Impacts Report states that "PERA payments are a critical source of reliable, predictable income and provide an 'automatic economic stabilizing effect' on state, regional and local economies, especially in economic downturns as these monies provide important stimulus in market activity."
The research further states PERA provides $3.03 billion annually in benefit payments to Colorado residents.
These retirement distributions represent 3.3% of the total wage income of the state and over 10% in Delta County. In real dollars, that amounts to almost $2 million every month in economic impact for the county.
According to the economists who conducted the research on PERA, "When a household receives PERA benefit payments, it represents an infusion of income into the local economy that creates a chain of economic activities whose total impact is greater than the initial benefit payments." A ripple effect takes place where a recipient's spending for things like a newspaper subscription, a meal at Zack's, or a few tools at the local Ace hardware store becomes someone else's income.
Some would argue that PERA is a burden on taxpayers. That could only be true if we decided we did not want our prisons guarded, our roads and bridges maintained, our children taught, or safer highways, thanks to the State Patrol and CDOT. The fact is, for every dollar invested with a state employee to do the job we all ask him/her to do, three dollars are returned to the local economy. Every public employee contributes to his/her own retirement and over 65% of PERA's retirement income comes from the investment markets. The professional investment team at PERA, overseen by the PERA board of trustees, has achieved a 9.6% annualized rate of return over the last 25 years at a cost of just 0.4% of assets. The average annualized return since the 2008 recession has been more than 11%.
Imagine if Colorado had five million employees (including the private sector) instead of 500,000 on a plan like PERA. What every employee needs from his or her employer is a living wage, a chance to improve that living wage and a dignified retirement at the end of their career. Every employer wants and needs a loyal and stable employee work force. A plan like PERA would provide all of that. PERA is an all-American and free market success story.