Philadelphia’s $5.7 billion ‘quiet crisis’

City Hall in Philadelphia

Figula Photography | Getty Images
City Hall in Philadelphia

This is the case when speaking to Rob Dubow, director of finance for the City of Philadelphia, the US local authority, and chairman of the city’s pension fund board.

The numbers for the city’s municipal pension fund are so troubling that there seems to be no point in adopting a softly-softly approach.

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This is a scheme with a funding hole of $5.7bn; it owes far more money to present and future pensioners that it has in its coffers. The fund has less than half what it needs, with assets of $4.8bn in mid-2014.

The scheme, which manages the retirement funds of 64,000 current and former employees for the Pennsylvanian city, has been branded one of the worst-funded pension funds in the US. Its financial position has long been labelled the “quiet crisis” of Philadelphia.

Although gently spoken, Mr Dubow does not mince his words when asked about the funding gap. “The unfunded liability is one of the biggest financial challenges we face [in Philadelphia] and we have to figure out how to manage that,” says the 57-year-old.

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