The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 16, 2009
Are cuts prodding California state workers to retire earlier?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Dollars and cents.jpgWe're starting to hear that state workers are moving up their their retirement dates. This is purely anecdotal, but the sense we're getting is that furloughs, declining morale, the budget crisis and a sense of overall erosion in the bureaucracy is pushing some people toward the exits.

The governor's recent proposal to cut state employee pay by 5 percent across the board may have been the clincher for many. That cut, unlike the furlough policy, would affect leave cash outs because it would reduce base pay, as we recently reported in this blog post.

Last week we asked the State Personnel Board for the latest age breakdowns for the state workforce. As of May 31, about one in five state workers was 55 or older. Add in those employees age 50 to 54, and the percentage of state workers eligible to retire within the next five years is about 35 percent.

Click here to see the SPB report. (Thanks to Madeline Olsen at SPB for helping us out.)
On average, state workers retire at age 60 with 22.7 years of service, according to CalPERS.

We thought about those statistics as we read this recent e-mail from a state supervisor who said that two key staffers were leaving for "greener pastures" in the private sector. (We've omitted some details because this person is not authorized to speak about personnel matters and isn't a spokesman for his department.)

The first of many staff exiting state service. They ... haven't had a contract for ... years and were already 50% behind market pay ... even before the 15 % cut.

They will take vacation payouts in the 50 to 75 thousand range for accrued vacation which hits department budgets hard ... First time in my (many) years (of service) that two ... left at once.

We've asked CalPERS for any retirement inquiry or application data that it tracks to see if a larger trend exists. We'll report what we hear from the fund.


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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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