By Nari Rhee
Source: UC Berkley Labor Center
This report analyzes the impact of public sector employment and defined-benefit pensions—which provide secure monthly retirement income based on salary and years of service—on poverty and wealth outcomes by race, gender, and educational attainment in California. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, this report complements the author’s national-level study, Closing the Gap: The Role of Public Pensions in Reducing Retirement Inequality, available at https://www.nirsonline.org/reports/closingthegap/. We find that public pensions play an outsized role in the retirement security of every major demographic group in California, with the strongest impact on women and people of color. It is also a powerful tool for reducing wealth inequality. As private pension coverage declines, public pensions remain a critical bulwark of middle-class retirement security alongside Social Security, particularly for marginalized communities who have been historically shut out of other wealth-building opportunities.