Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! As we do most weeks, we have gathered the best stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week. This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement.

Here are this week’s top stories:

  • Why Americans can’t expect a comfortable retirement anymore by Larry Getlen: a new book, titled Downhill From Here: Retirement Insecurity in the Age of Inequality, highlights the impact of the decline of pensions on retirement security. The author considers the ways in which both private and public sector workers have been harmed by pension cuts. The author notes that “half the defined-benefit plans in the United States vanished in a period of just 10 years.”
  • All Americans deserve to retire by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Randi Weingarten: Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, and Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, write about the critical need for retirement security for working Americans. They point out that the recent partial shutdown of the federal government exposed how little savings many Americans have, even those who work regular, full time jobs. They write: “Ensuring every American’s final years are secure is a moral – and attainable – imperative.”
  • These part-time Kentucky legislators can collect public pensions of $50,000 or more by John Cheves: the Lexington Herald-Leader examines the legislative pension system in Kentucky, which is well-funded at 98 percent. Several current and former state legislators are in line to receive pensions that are much higher than the averages for regular government employees. “When you look at the legislative pension system, it’s proof that defined-benefits pensions can work — if you want them to. If you properly fund them. If you properly manage them,” said Louisville firefighter Brian O’Neill, a member of the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition that is lobbying in Frankfort to protect retirement benefits for public employees. “Unfortunately,” O’Neill said, “what’s happening for legislators is not what’s happening for state and local government workers.”
  • Average funding ratio for public pension plans increases in 2018 — NCPERS survey by James Comtois: the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems recently reported that public pension plans improved their funding status from 2017 to 2018. “The nation’s public pension systems are constantly adapting plan designs and assumptions to strengthen their ability to provide a secure retirement for millions of retired public servants,” said Hank H. Kim, executive director and chief counsel of NCPERS. “Pension fund results improved in 2018 even as they became more conservative in their assumptions.”

Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!