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What is the average pension for a public employee in Illinois?

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A. This is an important question; however, this can be difficult to accurately state and can be calculated numerous ways. Based on Census Bureau data, the 2009 national average public pension benefit was approximately $23,400 per year, and the Illinois average public pension benefit was approximately $27,400 per year 1 .

The weighted average annual pension presented above ($39,231) differs from the Census Bureau figure ($27,400) for several reasons. First, the Census Bureau data is from 2009, while the data for the weighted average is from fiscal year 2010. Secondly, the Census Bureau data includes the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. whereas the weighted average examines only five pension systems. Also, the Census Bureau calculation is an arithmetic mean (the most common way to calculate an

average). A weighted average is a more appropriate calculation because the five public pension systems used in the table all have different numbers of retirees and different average pensions. A weighted average takes into account the different numbers of retirees and different pension amounts, while a normal average does not. It is not possible to calculate a weighted average using Census Bureau data. Lastly the weighted average annual pension ($39,231) is based off of only retiree benefits, whereas the national statistic includes survivor and disability beneficiaries.

2. Average annual pension figures for individual systems are derived from the retirement systems' Fiscal Year 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, and the average annual pension is a weighted average calculated by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

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