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Three quarters of metro Chicago residents ages 45 and older are anxious they aren’t saving enough to live comfortably in retirement.

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This is especially true among Chicagoans who rent their homes, are not legally married, or have a disability. And the concern is not unfounded. Should they need to take time off from work, many do not have enough income or savings to avoid financial hardship. Caregiving, increased home costs, and future health needs are all factors that would result in financial distress.

The financial vulnerability is most severe among those identifying as female, Black, and Hispanic/Latino, all of whom face greater barriers to financial security in retirement.

For many the challenge simply stems from low household incomes. An astonishing 42% report incomes less than $50,000 a year and 59% report annual incomes below $75,000. Again, those identifying as Black and Hispanic/Latino are more likely to report lower incomes.

Caregiving could also take a toll on retirement savings, with 37% of older Chicagoans providing unpaid care and assistance to a loved one through grocery shopping, transportation, and arranging for other basic needs.

A Goal of Financial Security

Social Security and personal savings are both important to Chicagoans seeking financial security, with women, Latinos, and renters placing an even stronger emphasis on having adequate retirement benefits compared to their counterparts.

While 68% of all Chicagoans 45 and older say adequate Social Security is extremely important, the rates are highest among younger, Black, and lower income Chicagoans.

Part of the current environment that hasn’t helped financial security among Chicagoans is that employer-based mechanisms to support financial security are often absent. A quarter of older workers say their employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) or IRA.

Financial Hardship Concerns

As Chicagoans worry about saving, they also worry about unexpected expenses leading to even greater financial hardship. A staggering 86% are concerned about paying for long-term care services, and almost half say they would face financial hardship if they had to take time off from a job to deal with a crucial personal or family situation.

Compounding the concern are unforeseen economic challenges. An increase in house payments, utilities, taxes, or home maintenance costs would all make it more difficult to age at home, the survey found. Those identifying as Black, Hispanic/Latino, and female would struggle the most with these rising costs. Caregivers and those with a disability also report greater concern over these unplanned costs.


This report is a reanalysis of data from a Vital Voices survey conducted by Alan Newman Research in May 2021 on behalf of AARP. The initial survey was of Illinois residents 45 and older and included 1,944 interviews in English and Spanish. There was an oversample of 400 Hispanic/Latino adults and 401 Black adults. This reanalysis describes those oversamples and the number of white adults ages 45 and older living in the Chicago metro area. All data are weighted by age, gender, and race and ethnicity according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey statistics.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Sauer at For media inquiries, please contact External Relations at