Retirement Patterns Fairly Stable

The number of annual federal retirements has remained fairly stable overall for the past 10 years, newly released OPM data show, although there has been some change in the types of retirements. The data show that just under 600,000 employees retired over fiscal 2004-2013 in total, with the 2013 number, the most recent reported, being 65,176 and the peak in that time being 2012 with 69,316. The average retirement age now stands at 61.3, up from 2004’s 58.7—a number that was artificially low because of an especially large number of early retirements in that year. Average length of service at retirement was virtually unchanged, going from 28 to 27.5 years in that time with little variation in between. There are a number of data sets on federal retirement that show differing figures depending on whom they count—in particular, whether they include the Postal Service, where retirements have surged in recent years due to early-out offers. This accounting includes the executive branch regardless of work schedule or type of appointment but excludes postal, intelligence community and certain agencies, while including some parts of the legislative and judicial branches but excluding others.

Changes in Types of Retirements

Voluntary retirement on reaching a combination of age and years of service is by far the most common type of retirement, now 89.4 percent and up from 75.8 percent in 2004. Following that is disability retirement, which fell in that time from 9.7 to 4.9 percent, early retirement, down from 11.8 to 3.3 percent and mandatory retirement, up from 0.9 to 1.5 percent, with a catchall “other” category for the rest that covers retirements in lieu of involuntary actions. The decrease in early retirements reflects fewer offers being made in recent years compared with early in the period. No explanation was given for the decrease in disability retirement or the increase in mandatory retirement—although in the latter case, a likely main factor was that the surge of air traffic controllers hired in the early 1980s to replace those fired en masse for striking are reaching the mandatory age for them of 56. There also was a change overall in retirements by system, with those under FERS now accounting for 55 percent of retirees, up from 28.8 percent in 2004, reflecting the ever-growing share of the workforce covered by FERS.

108 people reached