Statewide, teacher retirements are projected at 5 percent of K-12 educator workforce

Image via iStock; modifications by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System is projecting that about 16,000 teachers will retire at the end of this year. That would be about 25% more than the average retirement numbers of the past 5 years and would be the largest number since 2009-10, the year after the Great Recession, when more than 16,000 teachers retired.

CalSTRS’ projection, announced last month, is based on the 3,200 teachers who declared retirement in the first half of the school year and could compound a shortage of teachers, which is acute in subjects like STEM and special education, and in some rural and urban districts. The 16,000 retirements would be 5% of the 320,000 teachers in the state.

The 12,496 teachers who retired in 2019-20 was actually 230 fewer than the 5-year average. Last summer, when teachers decided whether to retire, it was unclear how long schools would remain in distance learning. But a full year of distance learning appears to have been a factor this year. In a survey with 500 replies from the 3,202 teachers who retired early this year, teachers were asked to check the reasons for their retirement. Top responses were the challenges of teaching during the pandemic (56%); did not want to continue working remotely (35%), and did not want to risk exposure to Covid-19 (35%).

Last week, CalSTRS released  its annual Sustainability Report, a retirement update that included a profile of retirees:

  • The average retiree in 2019-20 retired at age 63, after teaching an average of 24.3 years and will receive an average monthly member-only benefit of $4,614.
  • The average life expectancy of a female CalSTRS member is 91 and 88 for the average male CalSTRS retiree.
  • CalSTRS saw a 13% increase in members over 100 years old, with 410 retirees over age 100 as of June 30, 2020. CalSTRS’ oldest retiree had reached 108.

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