Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! 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.

Before diving into our top stories from this week, check out new stories of public employees helping their communities.

More seniors are being pushed into poverty — here’s why by Paul Brandus. According to new information released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans over the age of 65 who are living below the poverty line rose to 10.3% in 2021, up significantly from 8.9% in 2020. With numbers totaling over 6 million, these seniors face historical inflation rates while living mainly on Social Security and Medicare benefits, which are not adjusting at the same rate as the Consumer Price Index. Mary Johnson from the Senior Citizens League, a Washington-based advocacy group, says, “The Census Bureau report confirms what we have been fearing. Our surveys in 2021 and 2022 have indicated that a rising number of retirees report that they have spent through emergency savings and have applied for safety net programs.” The trend of seniors falling behind has been growing more and more problematic with the disappearance of the traditional “three-legged stool” retirement–which includes Social Security, an employer-sponsored pension, and personal savings.

Long Beach approves labor contracts with firefighter, lifeguard unions by Kristy Hutchings. Every day communities rely on public employees to maintain their safety. Like many cities across the country, Long Beach, California has struggled to recruit and retain some of its most critical public workers. Still, the city council is taking steps forward to preserve pay and benefits for city firefighters and lifeguards. The approved labor contracts, which represent over 600 municipal employees, include structural wage increases, and cost-share contributions by employees to the pension systems. “The Public Employees Retirement Law allows cities to negotiate ‘cost-sharing’ with their employee unions, which means employees agree to share in the cost of the employer contribution,” a staff report said. “The cost-share amounts are paid in addition to the member contribution rates and assist in curtailing the City’s growing pension expense.” This move increases the amount that city firefighters contribute to their pension with each and every paycheck in an effort to strengthen the funds. “This contract is going to go a long way in dealing with the retention and recruitment issues the Fire Department has been facing,” said Fire Fighters Association President Rex Pritchard. “We’ve lost several firefighter paramedics to neighboring agencies — and this contract is going to help us from losing further firefighters.”

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