TEXPERS Poll Confirms Texans' Positive View of Public Employee Retirement Plans

For Immediate Release
Contact Joe Gimenez, 713.478.8034

May 26, 2010

AUSTIN (May 26, 2011) - Texas voters who are 401(k) holders view defined benefit retirement plans managed by public employers as effective for firemen, police and municipal employees, according to an opinion poll conducted by the national pollster Dresner, Wickers & Associates and commissioned by the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems.

The poll qualified its 503 respondents as registered Texas voters and owners of 401(k) investments. A clear majority (54%) did not believe that public employees who already receive defined benefits managed by pension systems should be forced to change to the 401(k) self-managed plans they use.

"These poll results send a very clear message, that Texans see the current system of pension benefits as working for public employees and state and local governments," said Eyna Canales-Zarate, the President of the TEXPERS Board of Directors. "The Texas owners of 401(k)s sense that their own retirement security is not guaranteed by that type of plan. Contrary to conventional wisdom, 401(k)s are not as universally popular as some would otherwise have us believe."

The poll results showed that:

  • 43% think public employees should be allowed to retain their defined benefit plans; 28 percent think they should be forced into 401(k) type plans.
  • 45% of Texas voters think an employer pension system would do a better job of managing their retirement investments; 21% think individuals would do a better job.
  • 29% believe that the average return of 401(k) investments is not competitive with the returns generated by larger defined benefit pension systems, compared with 17% who do think the returns would be competitive. This indicates a low-level of confidence in 401(k) returns.
  • 51% of voters don’t believe that cutting public employee pensions is an effective way to balance city and state budgets.
  • 58% said their 401(k) has less money in it or is about the same as three years ago.
  • 31% don’t believe their 401(k) will have enough money in it when they retire and another 23% aren’t sure.


"Our research shows a lack of confidence in the self-managed investment portfolios of 401(k)s among Texans who own them," said Max Patterson, executive director of TEXPERS. "We were actually quite surprised by the level of antipathy toward them and policymakers should view their actual effectiveness among the general populace with healthy levels of skepticism."

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The Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems (TEXPERS) is a statewide voluntary nonprofit association that provides education and advocacy services to the Trustees, administrators, professional service providers and employee groups that manage the retirement money of police, firefighters, municipal and district employees in cities across Texas. Today, TEXPERS' member systems represent approximately 300,000 active and retired participants and over $22 billion in assets. Learn more at www.TEXPERS.org or www.TEXPERS.blogspot.com.