Thursday, June 23 2022

A joint meeting from the South Dakota Pension System Board of Directors and the Legislative Assembly’s Retirement Laws Committee heard the state’s annual workforce demographics report on Thursday, December 2, officials confirming that more public employees hung up their hats in South Dakota in 2021 than ever before.

Officials add that departures will only increase as baby boomers leave the workforce.

“Over the next five years we will have five years of record retirements,” said Doug Fiddler, the board’s senior actuary.

The pandemic has affected, but not caused, the underlying departures of the workforce, Fiddler said. Baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – have long made up the largest share of the state’s public sector workforce and are increasingly reaching retirement age.

But their number is decreasing.

In 2021, 37% of the state’s workforce was made up of baby boomers, up from 44% in 2007.

As this generation retires, analysts say there will be a need to hire more manpower – from county courthouse clerks to university professors and school bus drivers. Currently, SDRS has more than 94,000 employees in 500 employers, from school districts to city and county governments to the Board of Regents.

“This is information we should be sharing with our employer groups all the time,” said James John, captain of the Rapid City Police Department and chairman of table. “It will become increasingly difficult to find these employees, and we have significant challenges ahead of us. “

Thursday’s report only confirmed a trend the board has known for years and shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Eric Ollila, executive director of the South Dakota State Employees Organization. .

“What is surprising is that all these years later, having received the same information year after year, there is still no plan to help it,” Ollila told Forum News Service on Friday 3 December. “It’s like a three-legged stool with one leg on the left, and that leg is the retirement plan.”

Ollila called on lawmakers and employers to tackle what he called “stagnant wage growth” to attract new employees.

Fiddler also on Thursday noted a tendency for public sector workers to retire at an older age – partly attributed to rising health care costs and the desire to achieve health insurance eligibility at age 65. But he said the ongoing pandemic would also only encourage some workers to quit.

“As this continues we might see some people burn themselves out and say, ‘I’m done,'” Fiddler said Thursday.

This year, some national analysts saw a reversal of a long-term trend in the United States of people working later in life – with many blaming the COVID-19 pandemic.


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