Management & Labor

State and Local Government Retirements Are on the Rise

A new survey shows most governments are experiencing more retirements and also hiring more.
by | May 20, 2014
 

Many state and local governments are beginning to see signs of a “silver tsunami” as more employees file their retirement paperwork.

A survey of human resources professionals published this morning by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence reports several findings about public sector retirements.

Nearly half -- 49 percent -- of governments recorded a year-over-year increase in retirements last year, while only 16 percent reported fewer retirements and 22 percent saw no change. Employees who put off retirement during the downturn in the economy may be less inclined to do so now. About 29 percent of governments said employees postponed retirement dates, down from 38 percent in the 2012 survey and 46 percent the year before.

Some agencies experience sudden spikes in retirements resulting from new collective bargaining agreements or cuts to retirement benefits. It’s likely that baby boomers will slowly head for the exits over a number of years, however, considering the youngest boomers are just turning 50 this year.

A story in the December issue of Governing discussed how some agencies were addressing upticks in retirements.

The survey also found more states and localities are hiring. Nearly 55 percent of governments reported adding more employees than in 2012. The vast majority similarly said they incurred either fewer or the same number of layoffs.

The retirements could be opening up more job opportunities within some agencies. Much of the sector benefited from slight revenue growth last year as well.

As in years past, the survey also depicted a range of benefit cuts, resulting in higher health premiums and pension contributions. One of the more notable findings related to a provision of the Affordable Care Act. About 29 percent of governments surveyed set a cap of 29 hours per week for part-timers, avoiding the law’s mandate for most employers to provide coverage.

For the survey, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence received responses from nearly 300 members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives.

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