Impending Retirement Boom Among Government Workers


Today we launched new data as part of our project providing new details about Maine’s current retired government workers.  However, additional data shows that Maine’s pool of retired government workers is about to get a lot more crowded.

The chart below shows data pulled from the State of Maine Retiree Health Plan’s June 30, 2009 Actuarial Valuation (pdf).  It shows the distribution of government workers by age cohort for state employees and teachers.  Overall, 61 percent of state employees and teachers are over the age of 45, or 25,645 people.  Note, it appears the data for state employees does not include the University of Maine system–I will have to look more deeply into that.

This impending retirement boom will have two ill effects.  First, and most obvious, is the corresponding increase in the burden of retirement payments on Maine’s taxpayers.  Second, if these positions are refilled it will put more pressure of Maine’s private sector already struggling to compete for scarce labor against Maine government at all levels.

Yet, there is a silver lining.  As these folks retire, it opens up an opportunity to fundamentally restructure Maine’s government workforce.  The latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that in 2009 Maine’s state government workforce had 3,880 too many employees relative to the rest of the country.  One option would be to simply eliminate the position as folks retire out of them.

Maine's Government Workforce by Age