The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 28, 2011
Blog Back: State worker retirements

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Feb. 24 State worker retirements up 10 percent in February

Boomer's peak, that's all. Three years the trend will reverse.

Actually, the trend is just a few years old, assuming baby boomers (defined as Americans born from 1946 through 1964) will continue entering CalPERS' retirement rolls at an average age of 60. Here's a chart that shows how many CalPERS members received their first pension checks each fiscal year since 2000-01:

PERS retirements.jpg

For an earlier post with much more about the state's concern with the boomer exodus from state service, click here.

But there's more than demography behind the record-setting increase in state worker retirements, as frequent blog commenter Charles Sainte Claire explained:

Boomer peak is only part of it. I retired in '09. I would have worked until 2013 but between the furloughs and the general nonsense going on in State employment I left. Considering the furloughs I got a raise out of the deal.

This commenter thought the post was a waste of time:

How is this a story? "News flash!!!!! Retirements for this month went up just like nearly every other month in near history!" Is this just to throw some fuel on the fire? Like stirring the ire of people who would be upset because a State Worker was allowed to retire! The numbers seem pretty stable to me. It's obvious the State has had and has still a hiring addiction so lots of retirements is a no brainer.

Blog posts aren't always "stories." Sometimes they merely call out facts, as was the case here. A full-blown story would have included interviews with a few sources, quoted experts and a recent retiree or two. Since we've written stories about the retirement rate, we considered the post an update to that earlier reporting.

This blog tries to reflect the interests of its users. State employee retirement statistics fall into that category. We don't weigh whether an item might stir "the ire of people" before reporting it. We ask, "Is this interesting?" "Is this something people need to know?" If the answer is yes, we write about it.

Let me be a reporter.

The trend reflects the growing dissatisfaction and mistrust with the states ability to uphold its contractual agreements, the current loss of wages due to furloughs and renegotiated contract, and the constant pressure by the publics misguided hatred of public employees. And to some small degree to demographics of the state's aging workforce, and other factors that have made working for the state less attractive to long-time state workers.

I assume the orginal statement in the article was gleaned in some part from exit interviews. Hmmm, I think exit interviews are actually private. So where did the Bee gets its information which led it to the conclusion that the aging workforce is the biggest factor?

Certainly state workers, like people in all walks of life, retire for a variety of reasons. But the impact of the state's aging work force was a concern before the turmoil of the last few years. Click here for a 2008 Bureau of State Audits report on the topic. Furloughs, pay and benefits concessions and declining workplace conditions don't help things, but it's safe to conclude that retirements would be on the upswing even if the situation was better.

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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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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