The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 19, 2009
Report: California not ready for wave of state worker retirements

Bureau of State Audits seal.jpg

A new report from the Bureau of State Audits this morning puts new numbers to the impact of the looming brain drain state government confronts as its workers reach retirement age.

Some highlights from the auditor's report:

  • Forty two percent of today's state employees in leadership positions and more than 20 percent of rank-and-file employees may retire over the next seven years.
  • California is just beginning to develop workforce and succession plans while other states have done more to develop their plans.
  • Efforts to streamline the hiring process to bring new employees into state service are not expected to conclude until fiscal year 2014-15.
  • For certain departments that provide critical services, the challenges of filling vacancies due to large numbers of retirements is an immediate concern.

A few other telling statements from the audit's summary:

... nearly half of the employees in rank and file positions at the five departments we reviewed were age 50 or older as of June 30, 2008. Of greater concern is that most of the departments we reviewed generally believe it will be difficult to replace experienced employees due to a variety of factors, including the State's lengthy and complicated hiring process and lower salaries in the public versus the private sector.
In 2008 California's Department of Personnel Administration (personnel administration) started providing guidance as some departments began planning for the retirement of their workers. Further, the State Personnel Board (personnel board) currently offers a one day introductory class for developing workforce and succession plans, but enrollment in this class has declined over the years. Finally, although California is working to streamline its hiring process to better ensure it can bring new employees into state service, these efforts are not expected to conclude until fiscal year 2014-15. Thus, any resulting improvements may not be realized until many workers have already retired.

Click here to read, "High-Risk Update--Human Resources Management: A Significant Number of State Employees Are Beginning to Retire, While Certain Departments That Provide Critical State Services Lack Workforce and Succession Plans." It's 40 pages long.

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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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