The manager of the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System had expected the “silver tsunami” to hit a few years ago, but Donna Mueller, the system’s CEO, says many “Baby Boomers” in government jobs put off retirement because of the recessions that hit in 2001 and 2008.
“So we’re having a little bit of an increase,” she says.
About 6,000 people who’ve worked in Iowa cities, counties, public schools or state government retired last year. That’s about a thousand more than retired five years ago.
“Our workforce is aging,” Mueller says. “And many individuals did delay retirement.”
The Iowa Public Employees Retirement System — often called IPERS — is sending pension checks to 114,000 people today. While pension systems in places like Detroit and Ilinois have major problems, IPERS is “very stable,” according to the system’s CEO, and there’s “absolutely no problem” in paying benefits.
“It’s over 83 percent fully-funded,” Mueller says. “…Anyone who’s currently receiving a pension and current members who are looking forward to receiving a pension should rest assured they’ll receive their retirement benefits.”
More than half of the public workers who are in the system and still working are employed in schools. State employees account for 15 percent of IPERS “active” members. Sixteen percent of the future pensioners are employed by counties and another 14 percent work for one of Iowa’s cities.
Mueller met with Governor Branstad this morning to discuss her agency’s budget and Branstad expressed confidence in the fund’s solvency. Branstad also made clear he has no plans to offer early retirement incentives to public workers or he’s not advancing a proposal to change the benefit structure.