CalSTRS had an unexpected large wave of teacher retirements, 3,202 in the last six months of 2020, up 26% from the year-earlier period, said Jack Ehnes, CEO of the $283.4 billion pension fund.
In an internal survey of retirees, 62% of the 517 respondents indicated they had retired earlier than planned, according to the survey conducted by the staff at the California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento.
The top three reasons selected by the respondents for taking an early retirement: 56% of the retirees said they made the decision due to the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, 35% did not want to continue working remotely and 35% did not want to risk exposure to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, retirements at the $447.9 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, remained flat in the 2020 fiscal year — 34,756 — from 34,643 in fiscal year 2019, said spokewoman Amy Morgan in an email.
However, there were some variance among employers, Ms. Morgan said. School and public agency retirements decreased about 7% over the last year, while state retirements increased about 12%.
CalPERS did not survey the retirees but, CalPERS participants are older and baby boomers are still retiring, explaining the increase in state retirements, Ms. Morgan said. "We anticipate overall that the number of retirements will continue to increase over the next five to 10 years as more baby boomers leave the workforce."