Philadelphia’s benefits system, particularly its pension fund, appears to be at a crossroads. One thing is certain: the city’s employee benefits crisis is not quiet anymore. In a report called Philadelphia’s Quiet Crisis: The Rising Cost of Employee Benefits, released in January 2008, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia set out to shine a light on the problem. The report documented some of the main challenges confronting Philadelphia’s benefits system in relation to nine other cities—Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and San Francisco—and gathered more than a dozen expert recommendations. Today, city, union and state officials are giving the situation all the attention it deserves, and then some.
To help inform the public discussion, the Philadelphia Research Initiative, with assistance from the Pew Center on the States, sought to update the situation regarding pension and health-care conditions in Philadelphia and the comparison cities, based on interviews with officials as well as the latest available documents. We reviewed policy changes and proposals that have arisen regarding Philadelphia over the past year and a half. We interviewed two dozen experts on employee benefits from across the spectrum, and three of the four major unions that represent Philadelphia city workers provided varying amounts of information.
A link to the full report is below. Also read the related press release Pew Report Documents Challenges Faced by Philadelphia in Paying for City Workers’ Pensions and Health Care.