Concern about pension and health benefit reforms has caused more public workers in New Jersey to submit their retirement papers.
More than 20-thousand public workers around the state filed for retirement last year – a 60 percent increase from 2009. Retirements among teachers and firefighters more than doubled.
Dominick Marino is president of the state chapter of the International Association of Firefighters. He says most of the retiring firefighters are not being replaced.”Our jobs are task oriented,” he says. “In other words it takes a number of firefighters to get the job done. Certain aspects of what we’re supposed to do we may not be able to do. In the crucial minutes of the fire we may to wait to get some things done because we just don’t have enough firefighters in the scene.”
A Rutgers economist anticipates it will be several years before public sector hiring significantly increases.
James Hughes is dean of the Bloustein school of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. He says many of those leaving have extensive knowledge and their departure could hurt government’s ability to deliver services.”This could be a brain drain. On the other hand perhaps younger people more technologically savvy can also potentially revitalize an organization, but that’s really speculative at this point since they are not being hired,” he says.