Every man, woman and child in Chicago is carrying $18,596 in pension debt, the largest per-person liability in the nation and nearly double that of New York City, ranked number two. The Chicago Tribune reports:
“We note that the state passed a sizable pension reform package in December, which should help ease the state’s portion of this burden going forward,” the report stated. “However, the magnitude of the per capita liability facing Chicago residents is expected to remain immense going forward, barring additional pension reforms on the local level.” […]The study looked at the pension debt for the 25 largest U.S. cities and Puerto Rico. The island commonwealth was second in pension debt at $9,987 per person. New York City was next at $9,842. The median pension debt was $3,550 per person.
Even worse, the study apparently excludes pension debt being carried for various other municipal agencies:
Chicago’s per person number is even worse than the Morningstar report found — [president of the non-partisan Civic Federation budget watchdog group Laurence] Msall noted the $18,596 figure does not include pension debt at the CTA, Chicago Park District, Cook County Forest Preserve District and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. In Chicago, the per-person pension debt for City Hall pension funds was alone is $7,149.
The citizens of Chicago carry at least twice the pension debt load of Puerto Ricans, and so far the only silver lining is a rather modest and insufficient state-level reform bill currently being fought by a formidable league of powerful unions in the courts. That’s not exactly an escape valve.There aren’t many victories in the long history of wars on arithmetic. Chicago is suffering a particularly painful defeat.