Nearly 12,000 state workers drew their first pension checks last year, up 23 percent from 2009, according to the latest retirement application data from CalPERS (click on the table above to enlarge it).
The jump in the rate of employees leaving state service was likely due to a mix of factors: Furloughs that cut take-home pay by nearly 15 percent made working less profitable than retirement for some state employees. The state's civil service is weighted toward baby boomers, many of them now reaching retirement age.
More people, 2,744, retired in January of this year, the most of any single month tracked by CalPERS going back to 2007. Although that was not quite a 4 percent year-over-year bump, it was significant because the increase was on top of a large base number - 2,647 retirements in January 2010.
Up to a quarter of retiring state employees time their exits for the end of the year, which spikes the number of first-time pensioners each January. CalPERS rules delay initial pension cost-of-living adjustments until the May following a retiree's first full calendar year away from service.