The Center for State and Local Government Excellence has recently released an issue brief entitled, “Gauging the Burden of Public Pensions on Cities.” In it, researchers examine how much pension cost expense is borne directly by cities.

The Center aggregated the direct cost of locally-administered plans to cities and taxpayers by weighing this aggregated cost against local revenue, a novel approach in gauging a municipality’s pension burden.

According to their findings, overall pension costs consume 7.9% of revenue on average.

The researchers analyzed a sample of 173 cities across all 50 states. Taxpayer costs average only 2.7% of revenue for the least expensive fifth of cities examined, while the top fifth of cities consumed 12.3% of revenue.

While these numbers shed new light on the panic that has surrounded municipal pension obligations in the past couple years, the report concludes by stating, “. This general finding, however, should not leave one too sanguine given that some large cities with high pension costs, like Chicago, also have seriously underfunded plans.”

Download the full brief here or view below:

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The brief was authored by Alicia H. Munnell, Jean-Pierre Aubry, Josh Hurwitz and Mark Carafelli of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.