Change is hard.
Living off Social Security is even harder.
Yet, 36 percent of Baby Boomers plan to rely on Social Security as their primary source of income, according to a recent study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Thirty-four percent have a retirement or savings account they plan to use to supplement their post-employment income. Just 12 percent are looking forward to company-funded pensions, the study revealed.
Many retired government workers have enjoyed pension checks as part of their retirement package. Under this defined benefit plan, the longer the employee works and the more he or she makes, the higher the automatic payouts.
However, that perk may come to an end for future employees of Rutherford County government, and we think it's probably about time.
Any proposed changes affecting county employees' retirement package do not affect current employees, according to county Human Resources Director Sonya Stephenson.
The changes also will not affect teachers, who are covered under the state's retirement plan, Stephenson told the seven-member county Steering, Legislative and Governmental Committee during its meeting earlier this month.
If the plan Stephenson outlined is approved, future hires would fund a portion of their own retirement through payroll deductions of 2.5 or 5 percent of their incomes as decided by the Rutherford County Commission. The county would contribute at a lower percentage than it currently does.
The proposed change in retirement funding makes sense to bring government workers in line with the type of benefits typically offered in the private sector. Investment retirement plans also are more mobile, making them better suited to the way today's workforce operates.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American worker's average tenure per job is 4.4 years. A pension plan is of little use if the worker is never fully vested. However, with a 401(k)-type package, employees can take their retirement investments with them when they change jobs.
401(k)-type investments can also be rolled into IRAs, offering a more personalize retirement plan when an employee leaves a county position with investment choices tailored to an individual's risk tolerance.
The committee will review the issue again when Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System staff members advise the commissioners about their options during a 5:30 pm meeting Nov. 3.
The Steering Committee meeting earlier this month in which Stephenson proposed the change was packed with current county employees who will not be affected by the change. They were there, presumably, to lobby on behalf of their future coworkers.
That is admirable. However, change, difficult as it sometimes can be, is as sure as death and taxes. The work world is shifting away from pension-based retirement plans. Rutherford County officials would be wise to keep up.
The opinions expressed in this column are based on a consensus of discussion with The Daily News Journals Editorial Council, which meets at noon Tuesdays at The DNJ offices on the fourth floor of the SunTrust building, 201 E. Main St. Meetings are open to the public.