N.J. Government-Worker Retirements Surge Amid Pension Changes

Retirements among New Jersey state and local-government workers more than doubled in the month before Governor Chris Christie signed a bill raising their pension and health-care costs.

A total of 11,385 people enrolled in the Public Employee Retirement System have filed since January to leave the workforce this year, according to state Treasury Department records. In all of last year, about 10,700 retired. If applications continue at the current pace, almost 13,000 state and local workers would retire this year, an increase of more than 20 percent.

“Some folks will look to get out of the system with change on the horizon,” Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, said in an e-mail. “It’s not at all unexpected when you’re talking about the kind of significant, overdue reforms that are needed to fix the long-term health of the system.”

Christie, a first-term Republican, signed the pension and benefits legislation on June 28, less than a week after he got the Democratic-led Legislature to approve the measure. The bill will increase workers’ pension contributions by 2 percent of salaries and require them to eventually pay as much as 35 percent of the cost of insurance premiums based on income, up from the 1.5 percent of salary now.

In June, 1,688 state and local workers filed retirement applications, compared with 675 for the same month in 2010.

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