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Resources for Educators on Retirement Security

Looking for information and research on why pensions are better for education, educators, schools, and communities? Need facts to support your advocacy around retirement security? Check out our comprehensive list of resources from NEA and its partners.

Data on Public Plans

  • Characteristics of Large Public Education Pension Plans  ( PDF, 4.79 MB, 222 pgs.): The research for this report was conducted by NEA Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy during the summer of 2015. This edition provides data on more than 114 primary plans covering nearly 19 million active employees and retired annuitants—holding $2.8 trillion in assets.
  • Pensionomics 2016: A new research report finds that retiree spending of pension benefits in 2014 generated $1.2 trillion in total economic output, supporting some 7.1 million jobs across the U.S.
  • National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) Pensionomics State Data: Nationally, state and local pensions support 3,432,326 jobs and $559.7 billion in economic output. What is the impact in your state?
  • NIRS State Pension Factsheets: These fact sheets present a snapshot of these retirement systems along with key data from NIRS research and other sources for all 50 states and DC. Check out the factsheets for your state!

Pensions Work Better than 401(k)’s for Education, Schools, Communities and Teachers

Retirement Security Challenges

  • The Nation’s Retirement System: A Comprehensive Re-evaluation Is Needed to Better Promote Future Retirement Security: In this special report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines these challenges, drawing from prior work and others’ research, as well as insights from a panel of retirement experts on how to better ensure a secure and adequate retirement, with dignity, for all.
  • The State of American Retirement: How 401(k)s have failed most American workers: Today, many Americans rely on savings in 401(k)-type accounts to supplement Social Security in retirement. This is a pronounced shift from a few decades ago, when many retirees could count on predictable, constant streams of income from traditional pensions. This chartbook from the Economic Policy Institute assesses the impact of the shift from pensions to individual savings by examining disparities in retirement preparedness and outcomes by income, race, ethnicity, education, gender, and marital status.
  • The Continuing Retirement Savings Crisis: A 2015 research report from NIRS calculates that the U.S. retirement savings crisis continues to worsen, and that the typical working household still has virtually no retirement savings.
  • Shortchanged in Retirement: Continuing Challenges to Women's Financial Future: A 2016 NIRS analysis finds that women are far more likely than men to face financial hardship in retirement. Women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. However, “Women in the health care, education, and public administration fields, where DB pension plans are more prevalent, have higher incomes in retirement and lower rates of poverty than in other industries, due to their increased participation in DB pension plans."
  • Race and Retirement Insecurity in the United States: NIRS research examines racial disparities in retirement readiness among working-age Americans and households.

Teacher Shortage and Pensions

  • Teachers and schools are well served by teacher pensions: In recent years, several studies have argued that teacher pensions are a raw deal for most teachers and should be replaced with account-style plans. In reality, however, most teachers working today are building a secure retirement.
  • Department of Education Teacher Pipeline Data (Title II): Number of Students Enrolled, by State. This data is summarized in the following chart:

dropoff in teacher pipeline

  • Chronicle of Higher Education Incoming Freshmen Survey: For data on freshmen intending to pursue education, go to “Probable Field of Study” and click-off everything except Education. The data in a chart is here:

Other Retirement Resources

  • David Webber: The Real Reason the Investor Class Hates Pensions: “We 401(k) holders are the world’s ideal source of capital. We let ourselves be charged high fees that we do not understand, we accept poor returns quarter after quarter, we never sue to enforce our rights, we never vote as shareholders and we never tell our investment managers how we think they ought to vote.”
  • Hedge Fund Risks and Fees – by NEA/CtW ( PDF, 1.43 MB, 21 pgs.): What Trustees Need to Know and How They Can Find Answers
  • Here is What's at Stake with the Conflict of Interest ("Fiduciary") Rule (Economic Policy Institute Fact Sheet: When financial advisers are paid through fees and commissions that directly depend on which investment products their clients choose, the advice they provide is “conflicted”—what is best for the adviser may not be best for the client. This creates incentives for advisers to steer their clients into investments that provide larger payments to the adviser but are not necessarily the best choice for the investor. Every year, retirement savers lose $17 billion acting on advice from financial advisers who have conflicts of interest.
  • The Inefficiencies of Existing Retirement Savings Incentives (Center for American Progress) ( PDF, 1.2 MB, 8 pgs.): “The growing retirement crisis results, in part, from inefficient savings incentives embedded in the U.S. tax code. Households that need the most help saving for retirement receive the least assistance from the multitude of savings incentives. … The federal government and several state governments use the tax code to encourage people to save. These savings incentives typically come in the form of tax advantages and vary by type of savings, such as individual retirement accounts, or IRAs; 401(k) plans; or Roth IRAs.

First, existing savings incentives can be overwhelming and incredibly complex. … Second, savings incentives often benefit higher-income earners more than middle- and lower-income earners.”

401(k)s: America's Failed Experiment

It's time for America to abandon its failed experiment with 401(k)s. Watch the video and learn why pensions are the best way to provide a secure retirement!

Pensions in 60 Seconds

Pensions provide a secure and dignified retirement for millions of working people. Watch the video and learn more!