The State Worker

California state government retirements plunge

The number of California state employees who took their pensions during the first six months of 2014 fell dramatically, signaling workers’ willingness to hang on to their jobs, according to new state data.

CalPERS’ figures show the fund received 4,701 state retirement applications from January through June, a 19 percent decline from the same period in 2013 and the lowest level in five years. The number of inaugural pensioners has dropped a record 13 months in a row, year over year. The previous longest string of declining retirements was six months that ran from May to October in 2011.

Back then, the state workforce was emerging from furloughs that at one point cut salaries by nearly 15 percent. The return of regular hours and pay, plus the furlough-fueled record number of retirements in 2010, accounted for the drop in retirements.

This latest slowdown in pension applications is a sign that last year’s pay raises for top-step employees and next month’s across-the-board raises scheduled for most state workers has convinced more to stick around a while longer, experts have said.

CalPERS counts pension applications from mid-month to mid-month, so figures for the first half of this year run from mid-December 2013 to the middle of June.