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Are young municipal workers bearing the brunt of pension reform?

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Kate Lao Shaffner/WPSU
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Alex and Courtney Hayden at home.

Many Pennsylvania municipalities are already taking steps towards reforming their pension plans. Because municipalities cannot legally break pension obligations already promised, reform usually means changing the pension plans for new employees while older employees' pensions remain intact. So what does that mean? Is the younger generation bearing the brunt of pension reform?

"Set for life"

Courtney and Alex Hayden live in a house just outside the Borough of State College with their two cats.

Alex works two part-time IT jobs while looking for full-time work and Courtney makes about $50,000 dollars a year as the communications coordinator for the State College municipal government. They have no complaints about Courtney's salary, but they can't help but worry about finances because of the poor job market for Alex, Courtney's chronic health issues, and their big student loans.

And they're really trying hard to plan for their future. One perk of Courtney's job is the benefits...but even working for the government doesn't guarantee future financial security.

Alex said back in the day, a government job meant "you're set for life." But now, he said, it's not the same.

This is the part of a series of stories on Pennsylvania's municipal pensions, which are airing on WPSU this week. Read the full version of this report at the website of Keystone Crossroads, a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station. 

Kate Lao Shaffner was the Keystone Crossroads Reporter for WPSU-FM from 2014-2015. She reports on infrastructure, economic, legal, and financial issues in Pennsylvania with reporters from WHYY (Philadelphia), WITF (Harrisburg), and WESA (Pittsburgh).