New Report by the Pew Charitable Trusts

01-30-2013 |

A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, “A Widening Gap in Cities: Shortfalls in Funding for Pensions and Retiree Health Care” found a funding shortfall of $217 billion for 61 of the nation’s largest cities in 2009. Of this, $118 billion was for retiree healthcare (“OPEB”) benefits. The report examines plans of the largest city in each state, plus other very large cities. In all, over 45% of U.S. municipal employees are covered by the surveyed plans.

The study uses amounts as reported in each Agency’s CAFR, based on their own actuarial methods and assumptions.  So, the results may not be directly comparable.  In addition the authors used an allocation to estimate amounts for cities participating in cost-sharing multiple-employer plans.

The study compares the funded status of the cities’ pension and retiree health care plans.  In general, pension liabilities are much better funded.  Only two of the cities – Los Angeles and Denver - had funded over 50% of their retiree health liabilities.  The report compares the cities’ funding levels with their state plans’.  It gives the back story behind some of the funding levels, the impacts of underfunding, and current reform efforts.

A summary of the report and its findings is posted here:


The full report is here:


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