Retirement of federal public service employees on the rise

Retirements have been increasing rapidly in the federal public service as the leading edge of the baby boom generation calls it quits

The study, entitled Federal public service retirements: Trends in the new millennium, finds that in the fiscal year ending March 2007, the number of permanent public servants covered by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) who were taking their retirement amounted to almost three times the number at the start of the millennium.

The study analyzed data on retirements, retirement eligibility and pensionable years accumulated, for both men and women employed with the federal government. It explains how retirements have increased more quickly in the federal public service than in the labour force as a whole.

“One of the reasons is because permanent federal public servants covered by the PSEA are 5.3 years older on average than workers in the general labour force, and they also tend to retire 3.2 years earlier.”

The study notes that as of early 2007, about 8% of the workforce could retire immediately without penalty, double the proportion of 4% only six years earlier. One-quarter of the existing public service workforce studied was eligible to retire within the next five years.

Not all public servants retire immediately once eligible, though. In the fiscal year ending March 2007, about one in three of those retiring did so within the year they became eligible. About 44% put off retirement by about four years on average.

There are also those who retire before eligibility with a reduced annuity. In fiscal year 2006/2007, about one-quarter of those who retired did so, on average, 2.5 years before they were eligible. Women made up the majority of these people.

Baby boomers are the driving force behind current retirements. In the fiscal year 2006/2007, they made up two-thirds of the workforce and two-thirds of retirements. Boomers in the public service also tended to retire younger (in their late 50s) after having banked more years of pensionable service than the pre-boomers retiring in 2006/2007.

“In the fiscal year 2006/2007, the average age at retirement of the public servants studied was 58.4”, according to the study. “They retired with 29.2 years of pensionable service on average.”

Although men and women retired at about the same age on average, men accumulated more years of pensionable service than women. However, the gap in years of pensionable service between men and women has narrowed from 7.2 years to 3.4 years since the start of the millennium.

The study also found that the proportion of retirees who were women increased from 40% to 47% over the last six years. Women tended to retire having had longer careers than in the past.

The study excluded those employees of separate agencies, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, and Crown corporations, such as Canada Post, as well as members of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


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