Staying on the Job Longer in W.Va.

West Virginia’s public employees just aren’t retiring like they used to.

According to Consolidated Public Retirement Board executive director Jeffrey Fleck, fewer public employees — including teachers — are choosing to retire this year.

In a normal year, an average of 1,000 employees file for retirement during the last three months of the year. So far this year, just 400 employees have placed notices with the Public Employees Retirement System.

One reason may be the back-to-back 5 percent pay raises received in 2018 and 2019. After all, public employees’ pensions are based on the highest three years’ pay of their final work years.

Another reason may be that public employees simply no longer feel financially comfortable enough to retire at the age their predecessors did. Whatever the reason, the slowdown in retirements presents a couple of problems. First, public employees who are hanging on for bigger pension checks will mean more money to be paid out to those folks when they do decide to retire. Surely lawmakers will be aware of that as they almost certainly face another tightening of the belt in the upcoming legislative session.

Second, in a state where we need young people to believe there is work for them here, fewer jobs are opening up because of retirements. That is one more reason for lawmakers to work with employers to ensure our economy diversifies — that the same old jobs that have always existed (and, let’s face it, a lot of those are public positions, in the Mountain State) are not the only options for a young person hoping to build a life in his or her home state.


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