Connecticut state retirees have the highest average annual pension of any state in the nation, at $35,079 in 2011, according to a new report from the U.S. Census on state and local government pension systems.
Only six states pay an average pension of more than $30,000 — California, New York, Rhode Island, Colorado and Nevada.
The national average was $25,135 in 2011, up 3.1 percent from 2010.
Connecticut’s government employees contribute a smaller proportion than state and local government employees nationally; of all contributions to pensions, workers contribute 29.5 percent. In Connecticut, it’s 20.8 percent.
Investment returns are what make the pensions function, as contributions don’t equal the payments going out and administrative costs.
Nationwide, contributions reach 59 percent of what’s paid out in pensions. In Connecticut, it’s 57 percent.
But when you take returns into account, Connecticut’s asset growth kept it substantially ahead of its payment obligations. While $3.57 billion was spent in fiscal year 2011, the addition of a year’s worth of contributions plus the investment growth was $6.3 billion.