America is experiencing staffing shortages of historic proportions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey program, the nation’s quit rate is at an all-time high. The decline transcends occupation and affects both private and public-sector employment. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that state and local governments employ 18.8 million people, down 4.6% from 2020. While there are numerous factors at play, we here at NPPC know this to be true: one tool proven to help combat staffing shortages and draw in public employees is defined-benefit pensions.
Today, we proudly present our new informational video, Pensions Recruit and Retain Public Employees.
For years, we have been spreading the word that pensions are a powerful recruitment and retention tool for public employees. The current staffing outlook is dismal. Deficits in pay and benefits have led to massive teacher shortages, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor projecting a loss of up to 54,200 teachers per year between 2016 and 2026 to occupational transfers. The National Education Association estimates over 300,000 educator vacancies in America, not including the gaps in essential support staff, such as paraprofessionals and school custodians. It’s not only the future of education in America that’s at risk but also the safety of our communities. Public safety officers are leaving their jobs at alarming rates–the resignation rate of police officers increased by 18% in 2020-21. According to U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, firefighter shortages have become so dire that, “In this country, your chances of dying in a fire today are higher than 40 years ago.”
Research from the National Institute for Retirement Security (NIRS) found that 86% of Americans believe teachers deserve public pensions. The report also states that 58% of educators would leave their jobs if their defined-benefit pensions were switched to a 401(k). Police departments in the country that have previously closed their defined-benefit plans to new hires have seen recruitment costs skyrocket, leading many to re-open pension plans to fill vacancies. In states such as Alaska, where both the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and the pension plan for educators were closed, high teacher turnover rates cost the state over $20 million per year. The Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Recruitment and Retention Plan Overview for 2018-2023 also outlined that the lack of a defined-benefit plan affected staffing levels for State Troopers, stating, “the budget climate, reduced resources, inadequate wages and the inability to provide a defined benefits retirement system have placed the department at critically low staffing levels.”
These trends aren’t coincidental. They are evidence that defined-benefit pensions are instrumental to the functionality of our public agencies.
Please take a moment to share this video with your legislators, colleagues, friends, and family to help inform everyone about how pensions recruit and retain essential public employees.
To learn more, check out our Recruitment & Retention one-pager.