Pappas: 136,000 Public Employees Work in Cook County, While 127,000 Draw Pensions

For every retiree taking money out of a public pension fund in Cook County, there is barely one current employee putting money in, a sign of growing demographic pressure on underfunded retirement plans, according to the Debt Disclosure Report issued today by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.

  • There are 135,757 local government employees, compared with 126,528 retirees, a ratio of just 1.07 to 1, according to an analysis of 384 governments in Cook County by the Office of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
  • The City of Chicago reports 35,655 employees and 47,592 retirees.
  • Of Cook County’s 547 primary governments, 169 have fewer employees paying into pension funds than retirees receiving payments from the funds – up from 130 in late 2016.
  • This is an ominous trend.
  • Increasingly, public pension funds are paying out more money than they bring in through investments, contributions by local governments, and payments by employees – their primary revenue streams.
  • To see how many employees and retirees your taxing districts have, as well as their pension obligations and total debt, visit and select the purple box labeled, “Your Property Tax Overview.” You can search by address.

The Dollar Figures Are Staggering

  • Total municipal and school debt in Cook County has shot up to $145 billion, an increase of more than 10 percent since late 2016, when it was $131.6 billion.
  • Total debt, including pensions, has grown to an average of $106,704 per household in Chicago, and to an average of $36,875 in the suburbs.
  • Chicago gave $1 billion to its pension funds in 2018. Cook County gave more than $550 million to its pension fund in 2018.