The 3,576 retirement applications were just below the record-setting January-to-March period in 2011 when 3,626 state workers took their pensions.
The increase indicates that California's aging state employee population is retiring in greater numbers, a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future, said Elizabeth Kellar, president of the Center for State and Local Government.
"This isn't unexpected," Kellar said in a telephone interview.
Furloughs and labor unrest in 2010 and 2011 likely pushed many state workers to leave a little sooner, Kellar said, which is why the retirement numbers spiked to record highs for those two years before they fell in 2012.
"But now we're entering a more normal environment in terms of the way people make decisions," Kellar said, so the California's retirement rate has returned to the gradual increase that demographers predicted many years ago as baby boomers take their pensions.
More broadly, first quarter CalPERS retirement applications from state and local government employees and school district workers rose by a bit more than 10 percent, to 8,888 from January through March.
CalPERS counts applications from mid-month to mid-month, so the first quarter data includes the second half of December. Owing to the method CalPERS uses to calculate pensioners' first cost-of-living increase, more employees retire at the end of the calendar year than at any other time. Those retirements are counted in the January numbers.
PHOTO CREDIT: CalPERS headquarters. Jay Mather / Sacramento Bee file, 2005.