Readers' Viewpoint: Do government pensions draw employees?

American City & County asked readers if they thought public sector pensions and retirement benefits would continue to draw new employees.

In response to the still-struggling economy, local and state governments are reforming their pension plans, often reducing benefits for new hires. A report released by the Washington-based Center for State and Local Government Excellence in September found that, due in part to these cuts to pension plans, public sector workers' total compensation still lags behind their private sector colleagues'.

American City & County asked the readers of its weekly e-mail newsletters if they thought public sector pensions and retirement benefits would remain strong enough to draw new employees. Below are some of the responses.

"Pay, pensions and other benefits can only remain competitive if local officials continue to show their citizens the importance of having well-qualified city employees. It is up to elected officials to bring the cost savings of these employees to the citizens of the community. It is also up to the employees to show they realize there is only so much money in city funds. This, again, is part of what elected officials must bring to the table."

— Charlie Hilmes, mayor, Breese, Ill.

"I'm not sure that a pension benefit is something that is of concern to new, young employees, so the amount may perhaps be a moot point. I was born in 1946. What is attractive to me in a compensation package may not be attractive or even matter to someone born in 1986. I believe cities need to look at the demographics of the potential employees they wish to hire and to the extent they can design a compensation package, of which a pension is but one part, that will be attractive to those individuals. Cities also need to look at factors other than compensation when trying to decide how best to advertise a position. [For example,] Winfield, [Kan.,] is within an easy hour drive of Wichita, [Kan.,] with its diverse entertainment, cultural and dining opportunities. A person can have those advantages while also having the advantages of living in a relatively small town."

— Bob Porter, director of Electric and Water Utilities, Winfield, Kan.

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What's Viewpoints?

It features the Editor's Viewpoints and contributed commentaries.


Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...

Jason Axelrod

Jason Axelrod is an award-winning journalist who has reported for The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Business Journal and Mother Nature Network, among other outlets. Jason...
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