The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 3, 2012
UC study says hybrid pensions would hurt lowest-paid workers

111201 Brown Amezcua.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's plan to put future state and local government employees into hybrid pension plans and push back the full retirement age for new hires would hit low-paid workers the hardest, according to a recent academic analysis.

Researcher Nari Rhee of the pro-labor UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education concludes that while Brown's suggested package of changes to public retirement systems contains "several sensible proposals," the pension design and age threshold changes "may impose a disproportionately large burden on low-wage workers."

Her reasoning:

Low-wage workers are ill-equipped to bear the risks and increased costs of a 401(k) style plan, need to replace a greater portion of earnings than do middle- or high-wage workers in order to meet basic expenses in retirement, and begin their working careers much earlier, and experience shorter life expectancy, than professional workers. Because of these factors, the two proposals could have significantly greater impacts on workers at the bottom of the wage spectrum.

The paper, embedded below and available via this link, was published a month before Brown sent detailed pension reform language to the Legislature on Thursday.
Potential Impact of Governor Brown's Pension Reform Plan on Low Wage Workers

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks about his pension reform ideas during a joint committee hearing dedicated to the issue on Dec. 1, 2011. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

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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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