The State Worker

Fewer California state workers deciding to retire

CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento.
CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento. Sacramento Bee

The number of California state employees who took their pensions the first eight months of this year fell slightly compared to 2014, according to CalPERS’ statistics, although end-of-the-year retirements could slow or reverse the downward trend.

The data show 5,043 state workers retired from January through August, down 6 percent from the same period last year. The numbers reflect employees’ effective retirement dates.

1,226State retirements in July, the most in any month so far this year.

Meanwhile, local-agency and school-employee retirements by CalPERS members remained essentially flat through August, rising to 12,327, up just 1 percent.

The latest state figures indicate at least two forces at work: Many employees who could have waited to retire left prematurely to escape furloughs and tough budget years from 2009 to mid-2013. And the prospect of salary increases has convinced some employees to hang on long enough for the pay bumps to count toward their pensions.

More state employees retire from October to November than any other quarter, however, so the year-over-year change could swing wildly in the closing months of 2015.

Despite the retirement reprieve so far, state leaders remain concerned that the state workforce will continue to lose leadership and expertise. Nearly 41 percent of state employees are age 50 or older, and the government has historically done little to aggressively recruit from the outside.

The state is trying to turn that around.

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