Urban InstituteRetirement Policy Center

Pension Reform: Helping States Attract the Best Workers?

 

College GraduateYoung workers may need to rethink starting jobs in state government; they could end up paying for unfunded pension liabilities without much to show for their efforts. State pensions provide little incentive for new graduates, lock in middle-aged workers, and push seasoned workers into premature retirement.



Are Pension Reforms Helping States Attract and Retain the Best Workers?
Richard W. Johnson, C. Eugene Steuerle, Caleb Quakenbush

Recent budget pressures have led many states to cut future pension benefits for state workers. Using New Jersey as a case study, this report describes how these reforms ignore larger employee recruitment and retention issues for today's more mobile workforce. State retirement plans generally do not attract younger workers, lock in middle-aged workers even if a job is not a good fit, and push older workers into retirement. Recent reforms also shift pension financing burdens to the young, largely sparing taxpayers and current older workers and retirees.

How Pension Reforms Neglect States' Recruitment and Retention Goals
Richard W. Johnson, C. Eugene Steuerle, Caleb Quakenbush

To control rising pension costs, many states are reducing the generosity of the retirement plans they offer their employees, partly by increasing required employee contributions. These reforms, however, ignore the employee recruitment and retention problems created by traditional pension plans. Using New Jersey as a case study, this brief shows how state retirement plans discourage younger workers from joining the state's workforce, lock in middle-aged workers even if a job is not a good fit, and push older workers into retirement. Recent reforms make these plans even less appealing to a modern, mobile workforce.

State Pension Reforms: Are New Workers Paying for Past Mistakes?
Richard W. Johnson, C. Eugene Steuerle, Caleb Quakenbush

When state pension plans are underfunded, someone eventually has to pay for the shortfall. Many recent reforms designed to improve plan finances shift burdens to the young, particularly by making many new employees net contributors to—rather than beneficiaries of—these plans. Using New Jersey as a case study, this brief shows how states require higher levels of employee contributions, invest them in somewhat risky assets, and then, like a bank or financial intermediary, pay back many employees less in benefits than what they contributed and expected to earn on those contributions.

 

 

 

 

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