Unfunded public pension liabilities of Chicago-area governments increased 600% since 2000 as the number of retirees gained on the number of active workers, according to a report from the city’s Civic Federation.
Government payments in 2009 into the 10 retirement funds in the city and Cook County were less than half of what would be required to meet benefit obligations, the report said. The combined contribution shortfall reached $5.1 billion during the decade.
Benefits promised to retirees that can’t be covered by assets reached $22.9 billion in 2009, the report said. The average per-capita liability for residents of the third-largest U.S. city increased to $7,098 in 2009 from $1,198 in 2000, the report said.
“Despite reforms passed in Springfield last year, public pension funds in the Chicago area remained stressed,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, an independent, non-partisan tax-policy and government research organization.
In Chicago alone, the city pensions’ projected benefit obligation rose to $24.97 billion as of Dec. 31, 2009, from $20.3 billion in December 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The financial stability of the area retirement systems continued to deteriorate, the study said, noting the funding levels dropped to 61.3% in 2009 from 89.5% in 2000.