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…

  • Staffing shortages in schools across the country continue to impact students, teachers, and communities. Our latest blog discusses the impact and nuances of educator shortages across the country. Read about it here.

83% of Americans Agree that Pensions are Necessary

This week, the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) released its latest report, Retirement Insecurity 2024: Americans’ Views of Retirement. The survey results confirmed that in the face of an upcoming retirement crisis, an overwhelming amount of Americans believe that “workers should have a pension so they can be independent and self-reliant in retirement”. The study also uncovered that 79% of Americans believe the country is facing a retirement crisis. “A financially secure retirement is out of reach for many Americans, and our research finds workers are increasingly troubled by their retirement outlook,” said Dan Doonan, NIRS executive director.  “This new report details the range of Americans’ concerns about retirement, along with their strong desire for a return to the certainty that pensions provide.”

Alaska State Senate Stands Up for Pensions

Dominic Lozano, President of the Alaska Professional Fire FIghters Association, wrote an op-ed this week about the commendable move by the Alaksa State Senate to advance Senate Bill 88 to the House in early February. Alaska’s struggles with public employee vacancy rates and the subsequent failure to deliver consistent and reliable public services have overwhelmed the state. Employee shortages have been steadily growing since the closure of the state’s public pension system in 2006, and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Alaska is no longer a competitive employer and is currently in a state of crisis trying to deliver critical public services by departments with ever-increasing vacancy rates,” Lozano writes. “How did we get into such a non-competitive position? Alaska’s government opted out of Social Security in 1955, so most public employees have no Social Security benefits. Neither do most have any other supplement savings plan. Before 2005, we were still able to be competitive because we had a pension, but in 2005 we gave that away as well.” Lozano also points out that Governor Mike Dunleavy–who has been a vocal critic of the plan to reinstate pensions for Alaska’s public workforce–is himself a retired educator with a guaranteed lifetime pension payment. 

Kansas Tier 3 Pension Audit Reveals Shortcomings

The results of an interim study of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) Tier 3 indicate that the current plan pales in comparison to previous state plans and to those of neighboring states. Cade Graber, Senior Auditor with the KS Legislative Division of Post Audit explained, “What we found is that KPERS 3 generally in most scenarios returns a lower benefit than all of those other plans or most of the those other plans and it costs employees more.” KPERS 3, which was initially implemented to cut costs for the state, is the largest group in the system, with over 150,000 active KPERS members. State lawmakers will still have to decide if the results of the interim audit warrant rolling back members to the more secure, less expensive KPERS 2. 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.