The Oregonian – Ted Sickinger
This is a weekly Q&A focused on the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. Got a question? Submit it to politics@.
Q: How many members are there in PERS?
A: As of June 30, there were 367,853 members of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. That’s roughly 9 percent of the state’s population.
Not all those members still live in Oregon. The total includes 145,863 retirees and beneficiaries, and nearly 23,000 of those receiving monthly benefits live out of state.
The total member number also includes almost 46,000 “inactive employees” who have yet to retire and begin taking benefits but are not currently working for a PERS-participating employer. An unspecified number of those members also have moved out of state.
On the other hand, the total number excludes former members who received total lump-sum or account withdrawal payouts.
Suffice to say, the system is a large one. Retired members and beneficiaries are receiving some $4.5 billion in annual benefit payments, almost 90 percent of which goes to Oregon-based retirees, circulating in local economies and generating tax revenue.
There are 175,997 members of PERS who are still actively employed by a PERS-participating employer. About 12 percent, or 21,392, are Tier 1 employees, hired before 1996. Tier 1 employees have the most generous pension benefit formulas and make up the bulk of the members who benefit from the system’s lucrative money match formula.
Another 20 percent, or 35,136, of the active members are classified as Tier 2, hired between Jan. 1, 1996, and Aug. 28, 2003.
Tier 3, or Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan members, are those hired after Aug. 28, 2003. There are 119,469 active Tier three members, more than two-thirds of the active employee population.