Why an “unprecedented” number of TB State employees may soon retire

A wave of retirements of state employees is expected in the coming months, resulting in an “unprecedented” loss of knowledge and skills, some officials say.

According to the state comptroller’s office, up to 13,000 state employees will be eligible for retirement by July 2022. While not all eligible people are expected to retire, the number is expected to be higher than usual.

“As a result, the state of Connecticut is on the verge of an unprecedented loss of talent and institutional knowledge,” said union leader Dave Glidden, executive director of the Civil Service Employees Association, SEIU Local 2001. “La key to the future of the state will be realized with the workers. And I hope they figure it out before it’s too late, because time is really running out.

“They really need to set up this recruiting machine,” Glidden said.

Mass retirement is triggered by agreed changes in the cost of living adjustments for government employees.

As of July 1, 2022, there will no longer be a minimum cost-of-living adjustment for the salaries of retired government employees, and cost-of-living increases would be delayed for 30 months after retirement. retirement.

These rule changes would not apply to government employees who retire before July 1, 2022, raising concerns that a large portion of government employees will retire before the deadline.

The exact number is not yet known. It is “impossible to know at this time,” according to Connecticut COO Josh Geballe, although he said: “We don’t expect the number to be that high.”

“He’s likely to finish somewhere above our historical averages,” Geballe said.

A report released in December 2020 by the state’s Office of Legislative Research said that “the state can expect more than 20% of eligible employees to retire between July 2021 and July 2022.”

If 13,000 state employees are eligible for retirement, that’s 2,600 retirements, which would be high, but not unknown, according to state data. Already in 2021, there were 2,520 retirements of state employees, including 1,228 since July, according to data provided by the state comptroller’s office.

There were 2,605 retirements in 2017 when the collective agreement that came into effect in July was signed, and a 10-year high in 2011 when 2,714 government employees retired.

Deputy Gov. Dannel Malloy, the state in 2011 changed the rule to penalize older employees to prevent them from taking early retirement, encouraging many older employees to retire before this rule goes into effect, as this which is expected to happen this year.

However, the number of retirements by July could be as high, if not significantly higher.

Glidden said many government employees are “just waiting for the right sign from somewhere to say it’s time to retire, and that sign has arrived, and they plan to pick spring 2021 as their departure date. “.

Outsource concerns

In anticipation of massive retirements, Governor Ned Lamont announced in September 2020 that the Boston Consulting Group had been hired to study how to respond.

The goal, Lamont said, was to “deepen our state agencies and learn more about what to anticipate and how best to use this challenge as an exciting opportunity to ensure that our government serves our state as efficiently as possible. “

Glidden and other union officials have raised concerns that the state will use outside contractors to fill vacant positions, instead of rehiring.

“In order to avoid a disaster, the state should do what it is not doing at the moment, that is to say put in place a real recruitment machine to attract young workers,” he said. he declares. “But I think it seems like instead of doing that there is a bit of a fiddle in administration.”

Glidden said, “There is an excessive historical reliance in the state of Connecticut on consultants”, in part because “from a bureaucratic and bureaucratic point of view, it is easier to hire a consultant. than hiring a new computer scientist. University.”

But Geballe said there was “no long-term plan to outsource services due to this wave of retirements.”

“We are already on track to fill more positions than we have done in at least one year over the past decade,” he said. “We are seeing more retirements than in the past and we are hiring more than in the past. “

While it is not yet clear how many retirements there will be, recruitment for these positions has already started, Geballe said.

“Right now there are around 6,000 approved vacancies,” he said. “Today, we are also starting to recruit candidates for positions that we know will be retiring. “

Technological solutions

Geballe said the goal is to “minimize disruption” in service caused by mass retirements “, although he said” we are not expecting any at the moment “.

“It’s a very tough job market in all areas, not just in Connecticut,” he said. “We are competing for many of the same talents, whether they are nurses, doctors or IT professionals. “

But Geballe said that while retirements come with risk, there is also an “opportunity” to “become more productive internally”.

“There is still a lot of things that we are doing in the state in an archaic way using manual processes and, therefore, are less productive in some areas than we could be,” he said.

The state has embarked on a comprehensive, long-term, agency-by-agency technological overhaul to see “where we can best use technology,” Geballe said, to “provide residents with the ability to transact online. self-service line “.

“People will be able to support themselves,” he said.

Geballe said it was “the state’s obligation to see how we provide the highest quality services”. However, Jeremy Mohler, spokesperson for the advocacy organization, In The Public Interest, said technological solutions could ultimately harm residents.

“There’s cost savings, and then there’s this human interaction,” he said. “Some of those other benefits, like the workforce, creating jobs for the middle class or keeping jobs for the middle class,” he said. “There are a bunch of values ​​that we think public sector work achieves and private sector work doesn’t necessarily achieve. “

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