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Minnesota government retirements set new record

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The number of employees retiring from state government has hit a new annual record, and some officials worry they won't be able to replace the skills walking out the door.

The executive director of the Minnesota State Retirement System, Dave Bergstrom, said Monday that 2,733 state employees have retired as of this month, up 675 from the record 2,058 who retired in 2010.

He said it was a matter of a mature workforce and an early retirement incentive offered in 2010. That incentive offered two years of health insurance for employees who retired by June 30, 2011.

"It was not unexpected because of the early retirement incentive," he said. "It doesn't cause any issues for us."

However, State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said the wave of retirements does pose some problems for state government, which is faced with replacing senior employees with unique skills in subjects like school finance, tax collections and building roads in Minnesota's hard climate.

"Some of them are going to be hard to replace," he said. In fact, the state has already had such difficultly replacing lost skills that it has hired some retirees back as consultants, Gillaspy said.

Managers are now doing more succession planning for soon-to-depart leaders and thinking about how to reconfigure state operations around the skills of younger employees, he said.

The retirements could also bring into focus the state's difficulty hiring top quality replacements, given that pay and promotions in state government now lag the private sector and academia, Gillaspy said.

"We better start thinking about how we're going to compete for top talent," Gillaspy said. "This is not a cost-less thing."

The retirement system covers about 48,500 employees of the state, the University of Minnesota, the Metropolitan Council and some employees in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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