The State Worker

CalPERS state worker retirements fell slightly in 2015

CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento
CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento Sacramento Bee

Fewer California state employees retired last year, according to the latest CalPERS data, evidence that recent raises and the prospect of future ones continue to convince workers to stick around.

Some 10,034 state workers retired in 2015, down 4.3 percent from the prior year. December, the month that the greatest number of employees take their pensions, saw retirements fall 1 percent to 2,924.

The downturn goes against demographers’ predictions that retirements would increase as the state’s workforce continues to age. A year ago, about 40 percent of state employees were 50 or older, according to state statistics. Half of the state’s managers and supervisors fell within that age range.

The year-to-year decline in retirements is partly due to furloughs and stagnant wages from 2009 to 2013 that prodded record numbers of employees to retire, many sooner than they might have otherwise.

Those lean years have been followed by contracts that have provided modest annual raises through June and July of this year for most state employees. That has created an incentive for some state workers to remain working at least long enough for those pay hikes to be factored into their pensions, normally 12 months from the date of the raise.