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A paper to be released this fall shows that the cost of providing retirement benefits for cities may be a smaller price to pay than taxpayers think when compared to the cost of high employee turnover, especially for emergency personnel who receive most of their training on-the-job, over years.

Recruitment and retention of public workers is a key not only to obtaining high quality candidates, but to achieving budget stability in very important municipal departments. The facts bear this out in the NIRS case studies of teachers, firefighters and others.

Among the data presented in the NIRS analysis is the overwhelming preference among state and local employees for defined benefit retirement plans even when compared to wages and raises. The research also identifies a clear advantage in longevity of employment for the public sector.  Public sector employees have a median tenure of more than twice that of private sector workers.  

What does it cost to train a police officer?  About $240,000, according to one city official in Fort Lauderdale, and those numbers are easily backed up, because after an officer candidate completes a training academy, h/she must spend at least two-years being shadowed on the job by a senior officer – in larger cities that can be five-years.  Most first-responders today have college degrees, certifications, and often experience courtesy the military; but engineers, lawyers, city managers and finance employees are expensive too. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, public employees edge-out private sector workers in education, making them more sought after in the labor market, and yet they seem to gravitate to public employment jobs. NIRS’ conclusion:  Pensions have a magnetic effect on employees.


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