Financial State of Chicago

July 13, 2021

Based upon the city’s fiscal year 2020, Chicago has a Taxpayer Burden of $43,700. This means that Chicago taxpayers would have to pay an additional $43,700 to get the city out of debt. Although Chicago received financial support from the CARES Act, the city has come out of the pandemic with more debt than before. 

In the city’s fiscal year 2020 audited financial report, data shows that despite COVID-19 related grants the city’s pension and retiree health care debt continued to increase. Specifically, the city has not funded $33 billion in pension and $2 billion in retiree health care benefits of the $45 billion retirement benefits it has promised. Chicago will need to lay off all city workers, police officers, and firefighters for nearly eight years in order to catch up on pension payments alone. 

Overall, Chicago’s finances worsened by $2 billion from the pandemic. In 2020, Chicago only had $9.9 billion available to pay $48.6 billion worth of the city’s bills. Truth in Accounting states that Chicago’s elected officials have repeatedly made financial decisions that have left the city with a debt burden of $38.7 billion.

Between 2019-2020 Chicago received an extra $673 million to offset the financial repercussions of the pandemic, however, Chicago’s elected officials have failed to safely financially recover from the long-lasting effects of the years of financial distress. The city was ill-prepared for any crisis.


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