Best way to guarantee a financially stress-free retirement in Wisconsin?
Work for the government.
State public employees – such as public school teachers and state and city workers – on average receive hundreds of dollars more per month in retirement than higher-paid employees in the private sector, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.
Even as the state has lost 140,000 jobs and one-eighth of its manufacturing workforce during the recession, public employees’ benefits have been protected. Those statistics prompted the institute to commission the report, said George Lightbourn, the president of the conservative think tank.
According to the report, an employee covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System who earns $48,000 a year would retire with an estimated monthly benefit of $1,712 from the system.
In contrast, a private sector employee who earned $70,000 a year would get an estimated $1,301 a month in retirement – or $411 less per month than the lower-paid public sector retiree, said Joan Gucciardi, a Milwaukee-area actuary with more than 40 years of experience who spent nine months preparing the report.
Gucciardi said she was surprised to learn that most public school teachers and others covered by the state retirement system don’t pay what’s called the employee contribution – about half of the 11.2% or more of their salary that’s deposited into their pension fund accounts each year. While state law makes that share negotiable, nearly all public employees in Wisconsin get it paid for them.