The Retirement Security Initiative takes its cap off this week to the team behind the newly introduced research project US.PensionTracker.org. The research site, directed by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Professor Joe Nation, measures U.S. public employee pension system debt in easy to understand (although perhaps not so easy to digest) data and metrics (the research shows total U.S. pension debt at $4,833 trillion, equaling $41,219 per U.S. household).
The site allows visitors to examine, by state, market and actuarial pension debt per household and capita, as well as general fund expenditures, total expenditures and total general fund revenues per year dating back to 2008. For example, Alaska’s market pension debt per household in 2003 was $58,253; in 2014 it increased to $113, 137. Diving down further, one can look at both state and local debt and even cherry pick states to compare.
For its metrics, the pension tracker team uses a variety of sources for actuarial, budgetary, demographic and other financial data from a number of sources provided by state pension systems, most notably the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). They also rely on the National Association of State Budget Officers, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Treasury Department.
In all, US.PensionTracker.org is a great new asset to help policymakers, public workers and taxpayers understand the numbers behind the nation’s pension crisis and the significant need for reform.