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…

State legislative sessions around the country are in full swing. To catch up on the latest bills and activities we are monitoring, check out our latest blog, Pension Legislation Updates: Paving the Way Forward.

Public Employee Shortages in Every Corner of the Country

The research is clear–pensions help to recruit and retain public employees. However, every day, we come across news articles about the workforce shortages that states and municipalities continue to experience. Some states offer pension benefits that have been whittled down since the Great Recession, while others have revoked access to defined-benefit pensions and only offer 401(k)-style plans instead. And while we acknowledge that pensions alone are not the sole answer to America’s ongoing public staffing crisis, we continue to advocate for fair, secure pensions as part of an attractive, affordable, sensible benefits package for all public employees. 

  • New Jersey – The Camden City School district is trying to reduce vacancies by offering 10,000-dollar bonuses to newly hired educators for its“highest-need” subject areas. Last year, the school district began offering bonuses, which are paid out over the two years after hiring. 
  • North Carolina – Prisons in North Carolina have been grappling with high inmate mortality rates, due in part to inadequate staffing of correctional officers. Though the number of inmate deaths dropped from 90 in 2022 to 63 in 2023, persistent staffing vacancies continue to threaten the safety of inmates and facility employees alike. 
  • Florida – Police in Florida are getting creative with their tactics to land new recruits, including handing out frisbees and water bottles, and challenging Spring Breakers to pushup contests on Fort Lauderdale beaches. Between Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, and the Broward County Sherriff’s Office, there are 250 vacant positions–some existing, and some new positions designated to serve the region’s growing population. In addition to recruiting college-aged sunbathers on the beach, the departments are also advertising on grocery carts and have deployed a full-force social media campaign.
  • Kentucky – Rhonda Caldwell with the Kentucky Association of School Administrators penned an op-ed about how competing with neighboring states for workers is stoking the ongoing educator shortage in Kentucky. Noting that Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee all offer higher starting salaries, Caldwell says, “It is time to look the teacher shortage squarely in the eye and do something that will impact Kentucky’s 640,000 students, their families, and our communities on a daily basis, namely, to ensure a highly qualified teacher in every classroom.”
  • Colorado – Lawmakers in Colorado are looking to ease teacher shortages by echoing bills passed in other states and rehiring retired educators while allowing them to continue collecting their pensions. 
  • Mississippi – A different kind of legislation designed to reduce the necessary qualifications for assistant teachers is circulating through the Mississippi State House. Intended to address the school staffing shortages there, House Bill 1669, which passed the House unanimously this week, lowers the education requirements for assistant teachers from an Associate’s Degree to a high school diploma or GED equivalent. The Mississippi Department of Education has reported over 5,000 vacancies in teachers and support staff in public school districts throughout the state. 

According to a poll recently released by the National Institute on Retirement Security, 83% of Americans agree that all workers should have a pension. A good pension is a proven recruitment and retention tool. Considering the nationwide public sector job vacancies, education and awareness about defined benefit pensions may be the key to filling these essential government jobs. 

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.