As we close out 2016, the major events of this year will likely shape the policy conversations around public retirement for years to come. We've collected a highlight reel of teacher pension posts to capture the year's developments. Our most popular posts of 2016 are below.
People are curious; our top source of incoming traffic are readers who want to know how public pension issues affect them and their communities. Our most-read content consistently features pension resources, fact sheets, and maps that break up pension data by state.
- What Is the Average Teacher Pension in My State? The title here is about as straight forward as it can get. Interested in data on the average teacher pension in your state? See this post, but be sure to take into account the caveats around the "average" pension.
- How Does Your State's Pension Plan Compare? An Updated List of Pension Resources The resources here are designed to help teachers, reporters, policymakers, or anyone interested in learning more about teacher pensions in their state. Wondering where to find more information on a particular state’s pension debt? What about a particular state or municipalities’ pension plan? This post is your go-to resource.
- Map: The "Average" Pension of Retired State and Local Government Workers, by State What does the "average" retired state or local government worker receive in pension benefits? There's a map for that. The data here comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and it shows the statistical mean pension benefit paid out in each state. Average pension benefits tend to be highest in the Northeast and in Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, and California. Benefits tend to be more modest in the Bible Belt and the Northern Rockies States of the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.
- 10 States Spend More on Employee Retirement Costs Than on Higher Education We've watched pensions devour state and local education budgets, eating up dollars that could be spent on other public services. This post digs into the ways in which higher education is uniquely harmed by rising pension costs.
Current state pension plans do not provide the majority of the teaching workforce with a secure retirement. Newly hired teachers lack portable, fair, or secure retirement plans, while effective veterans can feel financial pressure to leave the classroom sooner than they'd like.
- A Tale of Two Teachers: A Retirement Story Here, we compare two teachers with different start dates. In every state, a teacher's pension amount is based on her final salary in the last year she worked, regardless of when that happened to be. In this way, pensions reward later-career service much more heavily than early-career service.
- The Pension Pac-Man: Still Eating Away at Teacher Salaries 2016 also brought the release of our report, “The Pension Pac-Man: How Pension Debt Eats Away at Teacher Salaries,” which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that, like the insatiable Pac-Man, the rapidly rising costs of teacher retirement and insurance benefits are gobbling up funds that could be spent on salaries. Spoiler alert: the trends don't look good.
- What Was Behind the Rise (and Subsequent Fall) in Teacher Turnover? Curious about teacher turnover? We were too. While it may be tempting to blame teacher turnover on current education policies, Chad Aldeman explains how demographics and rising retirement rates offer a more plausible explanation.
- How Many Teachers Deserve Adequate Retirement Benefits? Some? Most? All? Today’s teacher pension systems only provide adequate benefits to teachers with extreme longevity. This post digs into the backloaded structure of most defined benefit retirement plans and argues that all teachers deserve a path to a secure retirement.
Retirement Writ Large
Finally, two of our most popular posts discussed the effect pensions have on broader retirement issues.
- Let's Not Kid Ourselves. There Were No "Good Ol' Days" of Retirement Saving We're busting myths left and right in 2016. Here's one more -- there's a common, widespread belief that the shift from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans in the private sector led to a decline in retirement savings. Not true, says Chad Aldeman, and mourning the death of pension plans is longing for a bygone era that never really existed.
- Could Donald Trump Make Social Security Great Again? What woud a 2016 wrap-up be without an election post? While we'll have to wait and see how President-Elect Trump ultimately approaches Social Security, expanding the program to cover all state and local government employees, including all teachers, would provide workers with a baseline of secure, nationally portable retirement benefits.
Still can't get enough? This post, Why Education Advocates Should Care About Pension Reform summarizes our push for bringing teacher pension reform to the forefront of the education policy conversation in 2017 and beyond.