Affordable and reliable energy is fundamental to the comfort, convenience and safety of all of our customers in New Jersey and Long Island and to the economic prosperity of the communities we serve. PSEG is proud to be a strong contributor and supporter to our state's economy by creating jobs, paying living wages, generating tax payments and supporting local suppliers.
We have been investing in essential infrastructure in new jersey for more than 100 years. While older parts of our system have served their purpose, a heightened focus on replacing aging infrastructure is critical going forward.
Our customers want an energy system that is more capable of meeting their needs for a universal, around-the-clock supply of clean, affordable energy in all weather and seasons.
PSE&G's gas distribution system currently operates and maintains almost 4,000 miles of cast-iron pipes - more than any other U.S. utility. Through our Gas System Modernization Program, we are replacing 510 miles of aging cast-iron and unprotected steel pipes with new, more durable plastic, resulting in fewer leaks while enhancing service.
PSEG strives for top-quartile performance in providing safe, reliable, economic and greener energy. We ensure customer satisfaction with a focus on safe, reliable service at costs that we try to keep as low as possible. In doing so, we must constantly manage costs to maximize value to our customers and shareholders alike.
PSEG's role as an economic engine has continued to grow from year to year. PSEG boosted the New Jersey economy by spending nearly $2 billion with other New Jersey-based firms during the year. Company wide, we directly employ more than 13,000 people and spend upward of $1 billion annually on wages. In addition, we provide another $150 million in financial support to retirees and survivors.
Financial strength enhances our ability to sustain superb operations, deploy capital effectively and deliver value to our customers and shareholders, while also making meaningful contributions to our communities. PSEG has now paid dividends for 110 consecutive years - putting it among a select group of companies.