“What is the average pension of a retired government worker in California?”

The simple answer to that question is: one hell of a lot.

A slightly more informative answer would be: more than double the amount available to a retiring high-wage earner through social security, and over $15,000 more than the average, currently working private sector employee in California.

A really, really specific, detailed, and nuanced answer can be found here:

“What is the Average Pension of a Retired Government Worker in California?”

From the article:

“…the average public employee retiree with 30 years of service collects a pension (not including benefits) that is 26% greater than the average pay and benefits for a non-retired full time private sector worker, and more than twice the maximum Social Security benefit.”

What are those numbers, exactly? Your average “full career” public employee in California has a pension that brings in $68,673 annually, while an average full-time worker in California’s private sector brings in $54,326 in pay and benefits, while the maximum social security benefit to a high-wage earner retiring at 66 is $32,244.

What’s wrong with this picture? Where to begin…

Well, we suggest you begin by reading the article linked above. It is by far the most comprehensive study into the inequalities presented by the public benefits system. The study is long, and detailed, but we cannot stress enough how well it paints the picture of the bullsh*t that Public Sector Unions have pulled over on the rest of California.

Here are some of the juicy, non-numbers stuff from the article for those of you who are disinclined to do all of your assigned reading:

“For example, CalPERS on their “Myths vs. Facts” page states “The average CalPERS pension is about $31,500 per year.” This is a profoundly misleading statement…But that average [of $31,500] was for all retirees regardless of if they retired before benefits were enhanced, and regardless of how many years they worked…it can be seen that a more accurate average, based on 30 years work and retirement after 2000, is more than twice what CalPERS claims, $71,402. It should go without saying that if someone does not work a “full career,” they should not expect the amount of their pension to be based on a full career of service.

Several additional points should be made. We assume that 30 years is a “full-career,” but why? After all, a typical American worker who enrolls in Social Security can expect to work well over 40 years, from, say, age 26 through age 65, before they are eligible for the full Social Security benefit. And to put these pensions in perspective, the maximum Social Security benefit for someone retiring on their 66th birthday is $32,244. As shown on Table 1-B, across all 23 pension systems that we analyzed, the average pension for a retiree with 30 years of service is $68,673, more than twice as much.”

And finally, our favorite:

“Much of the discussion surrounding pensions has focused on their financial sustainability. While this is a question of vital importance, too often overlooked is the moral question of whether pensions are simply too generous when compared to government retirement programs for private sector workers, regardless of their affordability. There is a compelling case to be made that if the government is going to offer citizens programs like Social Security, or pensions for government workers, then perhaps all citizens should have the opportunity to select from the same set of benefit formulas and incentives.”

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6 Responses to “What is the average pension of a retired government worker in California?”

  1. Lynn Mae says:

    and don’t forget some of the government jobs where you can retire from one (police) with say 30 years on the job and turn around and take another full time job with no loss of pension and accrue pension benefits from the second job. Some go into lucrative security work through contacts they made while on the job.
    In LA during the last election any candidate for office that had SEIU as a supporter was immediately crossed off my list. It calls itself a union and has all the perks of being a union but it is a top-heavy, sometimes corrupt big business.
    With the local representative to Congress chosen for Attorney General, there’s a special election to replace him and there’s 23 (yes, twenty-three) people running for the seat. Nineteen are listed as Democratic, one Green, one Libertarian, one Republican, one undeclared.
    Reading the candidates’ statement I was disgusted that so many are putting the need for sanctuary cities, better education opportunities, and a long list of things which should be the responsibility of local governments. Of course they’re all anti-White House, many have been community activists (which makes me wonder: If you’ve been working in the community for so long and done so much why aren’t things better?) and one or two cite SEIU in the campaign literature.
    What I’m seeing is people so involved in their own little worlds that they think it’s the only world that matters and that their experiences qualify them to deal with the big issues that Congress faces…which are more than jobs (no information on what jobs, where), better schools (hey, you worked on the school board, why aren’t they fixed already?) or fair treatment for ____(fill in the blank for the minority of the day/week/month).
    I came to the conclusion that at least 15 of them would be right at home talking away to a gathering of people from True North…definitely their kind of people.
    And yes, last election, the local councilman running for re-election had the support of the Fireman’s Union…even sent out little fridge magnets in the shape of a fireman’s helmet. Whoopee. What good use of union funds—not in my book.
    But it led me to find out that the private pension plan for the LA Police and Fire Department is 93% funded. That means they have someone looking after their investments that’s doing a darned better job than Calpirs.


  2. jtimmons88 says:

    Very very few CALPERS retirees have a full thirty years. In case you were wondering.


    • Excellent point. Why would anyone work thirty years when they can get a cushy retirement sooner. That just means that the taxpaying public gets to support two public retiree’s where the private sector only has one. Also the same reason firemen only put in 20 years….. because we voters let them get away with it.


      • mel says:

        I agree with Fogbound in response to the humboldtconsequence, that as a county employee, working in a professional position, we are making significantly less than others in the private sectors as many of my colleagues have moved to Kaiser and Sutter for higher salaries. Our salary increases are very minimal and we have no bonuses. In our county office, we have to pool staff money for water, coffee and tissues as budget tightening has become tighter and tighter. Salary increases if any are minimal and we continue to fight for cost of living increases in SF bay area. Also another trend in this county I work for, is the staff considerably shrunk during the economic down turn in 2008 and we are expected to work with a much smaller staff and increasing workloads and lower pay. This is why many have moved to the private sector in our county. It’s not what it’s all cracked up to be when you are on the outside vs being an employee of the county. Times have changed for a long time now.


  3. Fogbound says:

    You seem to neglect an important part of the State Pension system. Employees pay a large portion of their monthly income into it ( I pay about $450/month on a mid-salaried job). You also neglect t mention that in almost all instances public employees make less than their counter parts in the private sector. For example in my profession salary studies conducted by both SEIU and CA Dept of Human Resources showed I’m underpaid by 29%. Don’t know about public safety employees but I do know for most govt employees this is somewhat standard. That’s one of the sacrifice of public service. I’d ask you this, if you could only offer 75% of the salary of a competitor, do you think you’d draw the best applicants? Lastly, I’d add that it is absolutely accurate that many public employees do not work for 30 years in their job. That is due to the fact that in many positions significant experience is needed and also, again, the weak salary structure males many leave for private industry if a good door opens (especially in engineering fields). If your talking about low level staff folk, these often do work for long chunks but then they are also on the low end of the pay scale.

    If you want to look for the real culprits of the pension crisis in this country you should start with Wall St. There mismanagement in the early/mid 2000s destroyed pension funds. The next level would lie with State and local governments that believed they could just invest in garbage selling the future for quick unsustainable profit margins. 2008 happened and moron politicians suddenly decided the problem was the pensions and not their stupid stupid investment strategies (Grey Davis is one that comes to mind).


    • Mac Towner says:

      ” …that as a county employee, working in a professional position, we are making significantly less than others in the private sectors…”

      Total F’ing bullshit. Public employee salaries are not only competitive they are completely outrageous when you add in benefits.


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