Federal Retirement Claims Up by 16 Percent

According to new data released this week by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the rate of federal workers filing retirement claims has increased by 16 percent over the same period last year, with nearly 70,000 federal employees filing for retirement since January, compared to just under 60,000 claims filed between January and July of last year.

Retirement numbers are often closely-watched, with many experts predicting in recent years that a looming “retirement wave” is a serious problem given the number of Baby Boomers who have or will soon become retirement-eligible en masse, with 15 percent of federal employees already said to meet retirement eligibility criteria.

These fears are exacerbated by an aging federal workforce, with the average age of federal employees outpacing the average age in other sectors of the American economy, and with federal agencies simultaneously struggling to bring in younger talent.

Still other experts see the problem differently, arguing that retirement-eligible employees’ decisions to stay longer than expected is creating a “retirement bubble,” under which large numbers of employees opt to delay retirement longer than projected.

In coverage of the data for GovExec, Suzanne Tufts, assistant secretary of administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said Secretary Ben Carson has “directed everyone [in leadership] to make the vibrancy and the succession planning of their workforce not only top of mind, but to start really thinking and cooperating together and working very carefully together to make that a reality.”

HUD boasts a workforce in which nearly 1-in-4 employees is currently retirement eligible.

GovExec further notes that “the increase in the number of new retirees from federal service also comes on the heels of a number of agency efforts to offer buyouts and early retirement to workers.”

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