October 28, 2013 by Mark Glennon


The Center for State and Local Government Excellence is a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. They recently completed a comprehensive study measuring city pension burdens in a new way. They added all required pension contributions for a given city and compared the total to the city’s total tax revenue. This approach makes sense, though it may be too kind to cities with relatively high tax collections like Chicago, making them look better. The average total pension burden for 173 cities in the study is 7.9% of revenue, but variations are high. The bottom 20% average only 2.7% while the top 20% average 12.3%.


Chicago and Aurora are at the extreme, ranking second and third worst of the 173 cities, with pension burdens of 17% and 16.4% of revenue, respectively. (Little Rock was the worst.)


In other words, Chicago’s pension burden as a percentage of the money it takes in is over twice the 173 city average.


The full study can be downloaded here.