The State Worker

California state worker retirements decline in 2013

The number of California state workers entering retirement fell again in 2013, marking the third consecutive year that fewer employees took their pensions than the year before.

New CalPERS data also show retirements among non-state employees, many of whom have faced similar cutbacks and outright layoffs the last few years, also declined slightly.

About 10,000 employees filed retirement applications in 2013, down 13 percent from the record 11,500 state workers who took their pensions in 2010. Last year, about 10,600 state civil servants retired.

Experts attribute the 2010 state retirements spike to furloughs, bitter contract battles with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and talk at the time of reducing pensions for current employees.

Many of those tensions have eased during the Brown administration. The state budget is in better shape, furloughs ended in June and a pension law that took effect this year left benefits untouched for employees hired before the measure took effect Jan. 1. (In October, a new ballot proposal that could reduce pensions for all state and local government workers has recently surfaced.)

Several unions also bargained new contracts with Gov. Jerry Brown that provide deferred pay raises that would factor into state employees’ retirement packages – if they work a few more years.

Meanwhile, retirements among local government, special district and non-teaching school district employees in CalPERS fell about 1 percent from last year to roughly 19,300. During the 2010 retirement stampede, 21,500 non-state employees took their pensions.