For Individuals,For Plan Sponsors

Public Sector Retirement Plan Changes Identified in ICMA-RC/SLGE Brief

October 9, 2012

One-third of HR executives report making changes to retirement plans within past year

WASHINGTON, DC - OCT. 9, 2012 - According to a brief released by ICMA-RC and the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE), one-third of human resource executives made changes to the retirement plans they offer to employees within the past 12 months.1 The brief, Local Government Employment, Benefits, and Retirement Issues, was released to thousands of public employees at the 98th Annual ICMA Conference in Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend.

"State and local government leaders face difficult issues involving retirement and health care benefits." said ICMA-RC President and CEO and Vice Chair of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence Joan McCallen. "Preparing public employees for retirement is a challenge made easier by understanding workplace priorities and behaviors. We hope this brief will contribute to the existing dialogue and encourage public sector employers and employees to take advantage of opportunities available to them."

"With a growing wave of retirements and sustained fiscal constraints, local government leaders could be surprised at how difficult it is to fill key positions," said Elizabeth Kellar, President and CEO of SLGE. "Part of the solution is to help employees develop critically important skills. Equally important is to build 21st Century human resources practices that will appeal to the next generation of public servants."

Additional brief highlights:

  • Since 2008, which was the 10-year peak, public sector employment is down three percent for all local government workers.2
  • As a cohort, local public sector workers are more educated than their private sector counterparts. Twenty-three percent of local government workers have a master's, professional, or doctorate degree, compared to 8.3 percent of private sector workers.3
  • The most common retirement plan changes in 2012 for new hires, according to local government human resource respondents, was to increase age and service requirements for normal retirement and reduce pension benefits. For current workers, 23 percent of those surveyed answered that current employee contributions to pension plans had increased over the past year.4

During the past six years, with ICMA-RC's support, SLGE has released more than 35 studies with the goal of educating local and state public employees and employers, other sectors and levels of government, the media, and the public about a range of issues facing governments.

1 Survey Findings: State and Local Government Workforce: 2012 Trends. Center for State and Local Government Excellence.
2 Current Employment Statistics - CES (National). Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. . (not seasonally adjusted)
3 Miriam King, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.
4 Survey Findings: State and Local Government Workforce: 2012 Trends. Center for State and Local Government Excellence.

About ICMA-RC 
Founded in 1972, ICMA-RC is a non-profit independent financial services corporation focused on providing retirement plans and related services for more than a million public sector participant accounts and approximately 9,000 retirement plans. Our mission is to help build retirement security for public employees. We deliver on our mission by focusing on service, quality and value. All of our retirement programs, administrative services and educational tools have been developed specifically for public sector retirement plan administrators and participants. For more information, visit    

About the Center for State and Local Government Excellence
The Center for State and Local Government Excellence helps state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain a talented and committed workforce. The Center identifies best practices and conducts research on competitive employment practices, workforce development, pensions, retiree health security, and financial planning. The Center also brings state and local leaders together with respected researchers and features the latest demographic data on the aging workforce, research studies, and news on health care, recruitment, and succession planning on its website,

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