As City Employee Numbers Drop in Chicago, Costs Go Up

Part 12,394 of an infinite-part series on public employee cost crises across the country, courtesy of the Illinois Policy Institute:

The city’s workforce is getting small but more expensive: dropping from almost 42,400 full-time-equivalent positions in 1993 to fewer than 33,800 FTEs in 2012.  But at the same time per-employee costs have skyrocketed from $58,299 in ’03 to $96,082 in ’11. So while the city cut its workforce by about 20 percent, per-employee costs have gone up by better than half.  Add it all together and you have labor costs for the city as a whole increasing by 14 percent.

And employee costs really drive the City of Chicago’s budget; by the city’s own calculations 74 percent of expenditures over the last nine years have been personnel related.

But that’s just the extant costs. What about those pensions?

The best of the four (which unfortunately happens to be the smallest of the four in terms of payments it is expected to pay out) has only 61 percent of the assets it ought to hold to be able to pay expected benefits – barely out of what is widely considered to be the pension crisis zone. The firefighter and police pensions have only 26% and 33% of the assets they should. The city’s largest pension fund, which covers most city employees (outside off public safety) as well as some non-instructional public school employees, has about 41 percent of the assets it will need to be certain of paying benefits on time.

According to the budget math, the city needs to increase its pension contributions from $476 million this year to $1.2 billion in 2015.

According to the city’s own analysis, the uncontrollable personnel costs are significantly due to forced salary increases “resulting from contractual obligations under collective bargaining agreements with the unions that represent the vast majority of the City employees.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s team couldn’t possibly be considering the idea that collective bargaining by public sector unions are a bad thing, could they? I thought that was something only corporate-owned, Koch-funded, Tea Party plutocrats believed!

But then, Emanuel has shown he is not too fond of a lot of public sector nonsense, standing up to lunatic raise demands by teachers unions and practically campaigning against unions in his run for mayor. It would be interesting to see the messaging if the unions tried to get him recalled.

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  • ||

    It would be interesting to see the messaging if the unions tried to get him recalled.

    We will never hear about. Rahm in some back room will simply threaten to kill them.

  • Paul.||

    Nah, he'll do what all democrats do. He'll offer them something, but only after the election.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Rahming speed!

  • Tman||

    It would be interesting to see the messaging if the unions tried to get him recalled.

    I would contribute to the Union's recall effort if they promised to use this ad-

    "Rahm Emanuel: Not In Line With Chicago Values

  • Yuno Hoo||

    I would contribute to the Union's recall effort if they promised to use this ad-

    "Rahm Emanuel: Fucking Retarded"

  • Tman||


  • Hugh Akston||

    I would really like to see a large city or state cover all of its budget for a year with tax revenue collected that year.

  • Paul.||

    Unfunded mandates are the bread and canola oil of our country.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It would be an interesting experiment though. Once voters saw THIS IS HOW MUCH YOUR GOVERNMENT COSTS, would they up and leave town or descend on city hall with torches and pitchforks.

  • Brutus||

    That's crazy talk!

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Chicago? It's a rare condition!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Telma Hopkins, mmmmmm.... I remember her from her stint with Tony Orlando and Dawn back in the '70's. Even as a five year old, I got a boner.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Even in private industry, wouldn't you expect per employee costs to go up as you shed workforce? Since you'd presumably be shedding your worst employees, one would expect the remainder to be better compensated than the pre-layoff average.

  • ||

    due to civil service etc. rules in many cases (if not most) , the highest paid aren't the best and the lowest paid aren't the worst. it's just a matter of seniority.

    several jurisdictions (Nassau County PD iirc amongst others) have actually offered officers with lots of seniority extra money/incentive to retire, in order to save money, becase they were getting such an insane hourly rate due to seniority and differentials.

    and 26 and 33% is ABYSMAL. not that i would expect anything better from chicago

  • Hugh Akston||

    Cities don't get rid of the worst employees, they get rid of the most recently hired employees. This would also raise per-employee spending because the most senior employees also have decades of automatic increases and negotiated raises under their belts.

    This is the way it has to be, because how could you actually tell a good city employee from a lousy one?

  • Chupacabra||

    "how could you actually tell a good city employee from a lousy one?"

    The ones who are more efficient at downloading porn?

  • silent v||

    Perhaps. But I wouldn't expect total payroll to increase by 25 percent after shedding 20 percent of the workforce.

  • R C Dean||

    Those shortfalls: what's the assumed rate of return? If its anything over 4%, then the situation is even worse.

    The silver lining is that the greedy fucks aren't going to collect those pensions. The dark cloud is the pain everyone else will suffer on the way to, and through, bankruptcy.

    And of course the corrupt politicos who put the whole thing together walk away scot-free.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Most likely 7% or more.


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