Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions!  We have gathered this week’s top stories about pensions and retirement security all in one place. This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement.

In Case You Missed It…

In November, NPPC expressed gratitude to the thousands of public employees we rely on to keep our communities running. Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) play a vital role in public education, and their dedication to enriching the lives of children and their families warrants recognition. Check out our latest blog, Educational Support Professionals: Pillars of Public Education to learn more about the valuable contributions ESPs make in our schools and communities. 

Alaska Communities Continue to Struggle With Staffing Shortages

The 2006 closure of Alaska’s defined-benefit pension system continues to wreak havoc on state and municipal public staffing levels. This week, on the heels of several early-season snow events that caused major headaches in the Anchorage area, a report came out disclosing that there are 579 job vacancies in the municipality with a budget for over 2,000 positions–meaning nearly there is a nearly 29% vacancy rate in the state’s most populous city. The document reveals that the city is short 106 employees in the police department alone, alongside the 189 open positions in the parks and recreation department and 70 other jobs throughout the municipality. City Maintenance and Operations, Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, and the fire department all operate with major staffing shortages, leaving the community vulnerable to severe lapses in public service delivery. 

New Hampshire Searches for Solutions to Teacher Shortages

This week, a two-year effort to address the extreme educator shortage in New Hampshire culminated with the release of a legislative report that concludes, unsurprisingly, that stress, student behavior, school culture, low salaries, and unappealing benefits are all contributing factors to New Hampshire’s staffing crisis. Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-New Hampshire, reacted to the report, writing, “Every day I hear from teachers across the state who are burnt out and feeling undervalued and underappreciated. It is encouraging to see lawmakers across the political spectrum agree that there is an educator shortage crisis in New Hampshire and that the state has a responsibility to help address it.” Tuttle goes on to emphasize the importance of attracting, training, and retaining qualified educators in the state, and provides several recommendations, noting, “The pension system is a tool to combat teachers leaving the profession. The NH Retirement System should review its benefits and consider making it more competitive with neighboring states.”

Is the Private Sector Considering a Return to Defined-Benefit Plans? 

IBM made a big splash earlier this month when they announced that they were ditching their existing 401(k) employee retirement plan in favor of a more secure, more desirable defined-benefit option. What does this mean for the future of retirement plans for private-sector workers? And how will it affect public employees? Stay tuned for a deeper discussion on our blog next week!

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