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News

Press Release

For Immediate Release
February 22, 2005

Contact: Dave Stella, Deputy Secretary (608) 266-0301)


ETF Announces Retiree Pension Increases

MADISON, Wis. – Most of the nearly 126,300 retired state and local government employees in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) will receive 2.6% increases in the fixed portion of their May 1 pension checks, Eric Stanchfield, Secretary of the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF), announced today.

This dividend for the Fixed Retirement Trust is nearly double last year’s dividend.

“We are pleased that the earnings on the trust funds provided our retirees with an increase in their monthly incomes,” said Stanchfield. “Once again, staff of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board did an excellent job managing the assets of the WRS.”

In addition, approximately 32,000 WRS retirees also participate in the separate Variable Trust, which is invested primarily in common stocks with annuities that fully reflect the gains and losses of the investments. The increase on the variable portion of their annuities will be 7%.

The variable increase is the second one in a row; it follows last year’s near-record increase of 25%. Variable annuities experienced losses in 2000 through 2002 -- the worst three-year period in U.S. history -- due to downturns in the investment markets.

Additional Background Information:

  • In 2004, the Department paid out nearly $2.8 billion in retirement benefits to 126,000 retired state and local government employees, more than 90% of whom still live in Wisconsin.
  • Over the past 10 years, the fixed annuity dividend averaged 5.7%; over the past 20 years it averaged 5.8%.
  • Over the past 10 years, the variable annuity adjustment averaged 6.4%; over the past 20 years it averaged 6.9%.
  • Department records indicate the average annuity of retirees participating only in the fixed trust fund is $20,976 a year. The average annuity of retirees participating in both the fixed and variable trust fund is $29,520 a year.
  • The highest variable annuity adjustment in WRS history was 1985’s 26% increase.

 

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