More than half of the 50 largest local governments in the country have pension underfunding liabilities greater than revenues, according to a report issued by Moody's Investors Service on Thursday.
The report, “Adjusted Pension Liability Measures for 50 Largest U.S. Local Governments,” which ranked them by debt outstanding, also notes that the proportion of pension burdens to tax and operating revenues varies widely by locality, as does state support for local pension funds. Of the 10 local governments receiving state support for pension funds, state contributions covered between 6% and 81% of their total contributions.
The local governments in the report include counties, cities, school districts and a property-tax-funded wastewater district. The largest unfunded liability percentage above operating revenue is the city of Chicago with 678%, based on fiscal 2011 data, followed by Cook County, Ill., at 382%.
Among the top 50, 20 local governments were below 100%, with Washington, D.C., the lowest at 11%.