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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. You need to know this news in the fight for a secure retirement.

Thursday, the Alaska House Committee on Community and Regional Affairs advanced a bill that would create a new pension plan for public safety employees with a 4-2 vote. HB 22 aims to address the recruitment and retention issues by creating a defined benefit pension plan for firefighters and certain law enforcement officials in the state–accounting for 7% of Alaska’s public employees. In addition to public safety workers, the NPPC is tracking efforts to reopen pension plans for all government workers, including teachers and municipal employees.  

In 2006, Alaska closed its state’s public pension plan to its public employees. Since then, public works have left the state seeking better benefits packages. Advocates have been sending loud and clear messages about the state’s severe worker shortages and saying that Alaska’s lack of a defined benefit pension is to blame. The bill’s passing will not only be a major win for Alaska’s public employees but also for the state. There has yet to be a bill to address the shortage and lack of benefits for teachers in the state.

In Illinois, teacher shortages continue to skyrocket. A recent survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools showed teacher shortages continue to get worse. With more than 5,300 classroom and administrative vacancies in the state, this is the highest level of shortages the state has seen in the last five years. As a result of this crisis, teachers have had to fill larger shoes–adding unsupervised students into their classrooms, or even filling in for subject areas they have no background in. IARSS President Mark Klaisner said in a recent interview, “No matter how much we’re trying, we’re not filling all the positions and the ones we are filling are people who aren’t necessarily qualified to teach what their assignment is.” NPPC has said it before, and we’ll continue to say it–Providing top-quality education is only possible with the retention and recruitment of public school teachers. Defined-benefit pension plans have proven to be the best recruitment and retention tool and provide a secure retirement for the teachers educating the future generation. 

Also, this week, Glamour published an article about Gen Z job trends. Most speculate that Gen Z isn’t interested in benefits like pensions and would instead prefer mobility or stability. However, Gen Z does not have access to the same opportunities their predecessor generations have had. Sarah Stein Lubrano, a contributor to The Career Workbook said, “Workers are facing a different set of trade-offs about work than, say, their parent. While the parents of Gen Z people might have chosen a stable job that involved a lot of control over their life (such as a long commute or long office hours but a retirement plan or pension), Gen Z are conscious that work is unlikely to be able to offer them the same kind of benefits and stability. As a result, they are likely to choose increasing amounts of variety and autonomy instead.” Gen Z is known for striving for better job satisfaction, and benefits like pensions have a great deal to do with that. As NPPC has said before, while Gen Zers are young and still figuring out where they fit in their careers, this is no reason to deem them ineligible for pensions. Current workforce trends should not deter employers; instead, they should be looking for ways to combat them. Guaranteeing pensions is an excellent place to start.

Be sure to check back next Friday for the latest in the fight for a secure retirement! Sign up for NPPC News Clips to receive daily pension news from across the country directly to your inbox.