Public retirees twice as rich?

October 17, 2011

Retirement benefits for state and local public workers are significantly higher than the package awaiting those in the private sector, a study tracing a 20-year trend suggests.

In an article for CalWatchdog, an independent investigative reporting group, Chriss Street said that for many retirees, “working as public servants literally turned into a gold mine.” Street is the former treasurer of Orange County.

The former official cited a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, “Comparing Wealth in Retirement: State-Local Versus Private Sector Workers.” The study demonstrates that spending more than half of one’s career as a state or local public employee translates into at least 18 percent more wealth at age 65.

That’s a bare minimum advantage, Street wrote: “Public-sector employees, since the peak of the stock markets in 2000, enjoyed the equivalent positive 10 percent yearly compounded investment return from defined benefit pensions — a total of a 235.8 percent increase.”

One of the biggest factors in that long-term growth was the predominance of the annual cost-of-living adjustment  enjoyed by virtually all public sector employees. The study concluded that public employees can expect at age 65 to be 77 to 86 percent richer than comparable private-sector workers — nearly twice as rich.

The report tracked more than 12,650 people in 7,600 households since 1992.


Take into consideration that CalPers in California is one of the largest and most successful public retirement systems in America. Over 35 years I put in plenty of money (invested) through both CalPers and Social Security. If we compare the two, Social Security offers me less than 1/3 the retirement with no capital to back their retirement system, unless you count the US treasury printing money which is next to worthless. In comparison CalPers has $225 billion is revenues. Calpers can afford to give us a COLA, Social Security maybe, but then it just goes back out in the form of increased medicare payments. Less than a year ago, CalPers had droped to $165 billion in assets, but has managed to increase revenues by 10%, even in a declining economy. They must be doing something right. So don’t blame state workers because we have our money invested with an exceptional retirement sytem.


What an arrogant ass. We BLAME you because WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THE SAME. We are forced, at gunpoint if it comes down to it, to pay into Social Security, like it or or leave it. And then we are forced to give OUR money to YOU to invest in this “exceptional retirement system” to which we do not have access..

I cannot even say to you what I want to say to you because this comment would get censored.. I can’t believe so many people would thumbs up a comment bragging about THEFT.


it is very likely that the reason there are so many thumbs up to this comment is because it’s early in the day and PUBLIC employees spend so much of their time on the internet while at work, while most private sector employees aren’t allowed to do that.


Hey mkaney, let’s close the univeristies, let’s fire all the caltrans workers, let’s let everyone out of prison, fire all the police officers and can the firemen. Sure go ahead, and then I’ll listen to you gripe gripe and gripe more because you were mugged in the street, your house burned down and you broke an axle because of the giant pot hole in the road and your kids can’t find a job because they don’t have an education. BTW, STATE WORKERS ARE FORCED TO PAY SOCIAL SECURITY AS WELL! If you don’t want to pay taxes then accept the lack of services. BTW, my state compensation was at least 20% less than similar jobs in the private sector. Beleive it or not there are PUBLIC SERVANTS who dedicate their working lives to make a better place for YOU!


STRAW MAN argument. As usual, those desperate to defend their stolen booty have to create and argument that doesnt exist and then tear it down, so it appears they accomplished something. So basically, what you’re saying, is that that if we want to have ANY public services, that we have to accept the compensation and the special privileges and LAZY WORK ETHIC prevalent among public employees just as it is?

I’ll tell you what, EVEN IF that were the case, I think I’d chose to be left to my own devices, thank you very much. I’m not really the type to complain about problems I brought on myself, but definitely am one to complain about problems brought on me involuntarily.

Go ahead public employees, keep building that animosity. Don’t be humble or grateful for what you have, defend your RIGHT to have it. We’ll see how this turns out for ya in the end.


Oh and if you want to split hairs about who pays and receives social security.. public employees who are required to pay, also receive it. from CalPERS itself:

“Cal PERS is a defined benefit plan and is coordinated with Social Security. CSU, Fullerton employees who are members of the CalPERS system are in the “State Miscellaneous, First Tier” plan. Employees who retire from PERS are eligible for benefits from the retirement system as well as Social Security benefits. CalPERS provides each active member with a tax-free $5,000 group term life insurance policy.”

Keep diggin that hole with misrepresentations..


Pension Funds Recovering – It Wasn’t Unions After All!


I read the story. It is old news. Since this story about the big market gain, the market has made a big downturn so at this time the story is meaningless. I suggest you look at the actuarial report in the above post for real information on the funding status of the California Public Employee retirement pools.


I make a bet that 90% of the negs here either work for a union or Gov. job or if not them their significant other does.


You got that right. We spend the money that funds those greeter jobs for fogeys at Walmart. We pay your salaries! Don’t want you to dip into your private industry 401k too soon or tap that Prop 13 equity the “ownership” economy gave you. Smile big. No union protection there.


Confused by your comment. Are you implying that you are union or Gov? And if so that you pay the private sector’s salary?


Not union or Gov at present. Was at one time. And yes, the salaries earned by government workers in San Luis Obispo county is a prime driver of the economy. No one would enjoy the standard of living possible here without Poly, prisons and local and federal workers spending their earnings. And that pays the private sector’s salaries.


Here’s the problem with that statement as I see it Mike. It is the old chicken and egg, which came first? That seems as how you look at it. But here is the REALITY Mike. I don’t care if all it may or may not have come from this area (money to Gov. to private sector) it ALL (Gov. salaries) originated from Taxpayers. PERIOD. If not I would LOVE to hear where their (Gov. workers) pay comes from??????

You are framing your arguement in a way that still ignores the truth of origin of salaries.


They embrace security and servitude. I’ll take freedom and risk. Remember what these robots gave for their fat pensions: their souls.


Of the one trillion dollars of Obama stimulus, roughly half or 500 billion went directly to state and local public unions to keep the gravy train rollin. People understand this, and that train is coming to a halt.

You can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.



The stimuli was $787 billion, AND 40% was tax cuts/credits.


I really appreciate that I can go to the Internet and lookup what all these state and local employees are being paid, as well as knowing all their benefits rates.

This is great. Why stop here?

I would really feel better if I knew the earnings and benefits of folks I want to believe in, like my MD and DDS, as well as the real-estate brokers and bankers, the investment advisors, vintners, car dealers, contractors, the guy at the City parking lot, and those Starbucks people.

Oh, and while we’re at it, I want to know about the money collected by Rush, Bill O’Reilly, Dave Congalton, Mitch Cooney, Alec Baldwin, Ooh Ooh, and don’t forget my good buddy Mel Gibson.

It’s only fair. Right? Fair and balanced.


Well old druggie’s worth an estimated $400 million. Old Billo only $40-$50 million. Beckie was $30-$40 million and Forehead Insannity was $50 million.

Everyone else?


Well Ray all those (private) people you mentioned, their EMPLOYERS do know what they make. Same here. WE the TAXPERERS/EMPLOYERS know what the Gov. workers make. What else you got.


Here is the part I found funny about the article. The fact that a lot of the people in CalPers I bet can’t stand Fox News and yet they are HEAVILY invest in it and making money off of it. Gotta love the irony!


I believe it’s a subset of the oft-cited remedy to free market excess; “vote with your dollars” so there really is no irony involved. If you want to effect change, own a stake in the game.


Here’s what’s confusing to me.

The difference between private and public sector employment is basically that private sector jobs/employers CREATE wealth, through new inventions, new products, sales, providing services, etc…

Public sector creates NO wealth. It uses up tax dollars and provides essential services that by law only they can provide (sewers, water systems, fire hyrants, LE, roads etc…).

However, while service jobs in the private sector usually pay crappy, in the public sector they pay well, due in part to the unions negotiating employment contracts with government/administrators or city councils that don’t have to worry about how much they pay, because it’s not coming directly out of their pockets like with a corporation or small business person.

Another problem is the notion that government salaries are calculated based on what other cities or counties are paying their people, with no thought as to whether those other places are going broke, have mountains of debt to cover or no debt at all. I say do away with ALL prevailing wage laws.

City councils, County Supervisors (State Legislatures, too) tend to hand out big raises and benefit increases when the budget is phat with little concern about the lean times sure to come.

But the smart private businessman stashes as much away as possible, knowing from experience that good times don’t last forever.

Personally, I feel a government job, any government job, is only worth so much money, just as a forklift driver is only worth so much money in a warehouse. To continuously give COLAs and step increases is to me a foolish way to run a government let alone a business.

Consider this: the Cayucos Sanitary District was advertising for an entry level maintenance job. Qualifications included a H.S. diploma or GED. Period. That’s it. The starting pay was from $30,000+ to nearly $40,000 a year plus extensive benefits. The new hire was expected to get a waste water collection system operators certificate (a correspondence class and a test) within 6 months at which time their pay scale jumps from $34,000+ to $43,000+.

Wow. That’s like the best entry level, high school educated job I’ve ever heard of. Course one has to be willing to be knee-deep in excrement part of the time, so there is some trade off. Must not be so unpleasant to think about considering that they got nearly 70 applications, the majority of whom already had jobs.

I try not to begrudge people the money they make. Yes, even government employees, but when they whine about no raise or no COLA, or having to pay for their own retirement, it sort of chaffs my hide. I mean their prosperity comes out of my pocket. So call me a whiner, I don’t care, but please, cut the crap about the poor public sector employees. It just doesn’t ring true.

Oh, and another pet peeve I have is when one agency like the Regional Water Quality Control Board pats itself on the back after fining another agency like CMC, for something like a water quality violation in its sewer discharge.

RWQCB proclaims for all to hear that they fined CMC $100,000 or some such amount. What bugs me is that the money that pays for both RWQCB and CMC doesn’t appear out of thin air or is created through some amazing new product or service.

It comes from taxpayers. One state agency fining another does absolutely nothing except justify the jobs of bureaucrats pushing paperwork back and forth. They should give such fines back to taxpayers. Now that’s something I could get behind.


Thats the most COMMON SENSE thing I have heard. 5 stars on that one. You hit everything right on the nail head.


BRAVO! Hear-hear! THIS is what is on the mind of the majority; well, the ones that work in the private sector and try to fund the non-producers.

Sort of like the 53%ers, but that’s a bit unrelated to this topic. Sort of.


Unions were not mandated at the university level years ago AND during those times before unions we received better compensation and benefits through the chancellor’s office than we ever got once the unions go their foot in the door. The unions split up state workers into different working categories, then pitted them against each other. I never joined the union but was forced to pay my “fair share” which was about $3.00 a month less than becoming a union member. Much of that fair share money was also spent on PAC’s I had little use for.


It seems to me if everyone actually went and looked at the numbers, this whole argument would immediately be over with.


I love that site, it’s been bookmarked ever since I saw it. What a handy mechanism for blasting any “we’re not paid that much, especially the level 1 guys” arguments.


Haha lately I find myself just saying “shutup” and providing the link. It’s so irritating that they still try to claim that in the hopes that it’ll fly because no one reading will know better.