Rate of New Jersey public employee retirement may shock system

While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie formulates a new budget, the state's pension system may be shocked by the retirement of more than 20,000 public employees in 2010, according to the Cumberland County News. The paper reports that the number of firefighters, police personnel and teachers who filed for retirement last year increased by 60 percent from 2009 levels.

The New Jersey Division of Payments and Benefits reported the retirement rate as the highest in nearly 10 years, raising the total number of retired employees receiving benefits to approximately 510,000. The number is bound to put pressure on the pension system in the Garden State, where deficits are already running high. Supporters of public unions say that Governor Christie's overtures of slashing benefits and raising costs motivated many state employees to retire to early.

"There was a lot of talk about increasing pension contributions and other changes, all designed to scare people, and teachers responded," Steve Wollmer, communications director for the New Jersey Education Association, told the news source.

The Cumberland News reports that 7,132 teachers retired in 2010 - up from approximately 4,900 in the previous year. Additionally, retirement among firefighters and policemen jumped 45 percent year-over-year.  

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