More than 1,000 state workers have ended their employment during fiscal 2003, nearly 33% more than in 2002, according to an Associated Press report. An unidentified official told the AP that that was a result of regular employment cycles, budget cuts, an aging workforce, and retirement incentives.
Apparently, there’s more to come. Up to 40% of the government’s workforce could retire in the next five years, according to state Labor and Employment Department projections, agency director Troy Eid, according to the AP. Retirement figures kept by the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), the organization that oversees pension funds for most state employees, indicate an even higher retirement rate. PERA, which reports figures by the calendar year and counts retirements among employees not included in the state’s count, said there were 1,337 state-worker retirements in 2002, 11% higher than the previous year. In the first six months of 2003, PERA reported 796 retirements in state government.
Eid said another factor in the high level of retirements is the average age of state government workers. Colorado is among the top third tier of states with an average age of 44.5 in the civil service system.
Part of this year’s rush comes from those who aren’t retiring soon but want to beat a November 1 deadline when rates increase to ”buy” extra years for their pensions, PERA officials said. Employees, whose benefits are based on age and years of service, can increase benefits by paying 15.5% of the highest average salary in their career to get one year added to their retirement credit.On November 1, that cost goes up to 18.1% for PERA members less than 50 years old and 22.1% for members 50 and older.