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Rising Prices and Increasing Expenses Worry Workers

AARP Financial Security Trends Survey

In January 2022, AARP launched its new Financial Security Trends Survey, which is designed to monitor the financial experiences, behaviors, and attitudes of adults age 30-plus. The first wave of this nationally representative survey includes over 6,000 adults age 30-plus, including oversamples of Black/African American respondents and Hispanic/Latino respondents. The survey examines overall financial well-being, debt, emergency savings, retirement savings, expenses, and financial worries and will be repeated periodically to identify changes over time. 

This first article about the survey’s findings focuses on workers (i.e., adults who are not yet retired). 

Key Findings

Rising prices and increasing expenses worry workers.

Rising prices are taking a toll on workers age 30-plus, making it difficult to cover everyday expenses, manage debt, and save for the future.

Rising prices are workers’ top financial concern.

More than three in four (78%) workers age 30-plus are worried about prices rising faster than their income, including a large majority of Black workers (72%), Hispanic workers (81%), and non-Hispanic white workers (77%).

And its impacts are already being felt by many.

Roughly one in four (24%) say that their financial situation is worse than it was 12 months ago. 

Among those whose situation is worse than 12 months ago, the top reasons are:

  • Increased expenses (52%)
  • Higher debt (31%)

Workers age 30 and older say that their expenses in a variety of areas are higher than 12 months ago. The expenses that are especially likely to be higher include:

  • Food/groceries (66%) 
  • Transportation (62%) 

Many are struggling with debt.

More than four in five (85%) workers ages 30-plus have debt. Of those with debt, roughly two in five (42%) say that they have more debt than they can manage.

Both debt and increasing expenses are making it difficult to save for the future.

  • Two in five (39%) workers say that they have no emergency savings. 
  • One in five (20%) workers have nothing saved for retirement. 

Top Barriers to Saving for Emergencies

  • Everyday Expenses (62%)
  • Debt Payments (43%)

Top Barriers to Saving for Retirement

  • Everyday Expenses (60%)
  • Debt Payments (40%)

Methodology

“Workers” are defined here as survey respondents age 30-plus who said that they are not retired, which primarily consists of those who are working, looking for work, or on temporary layoff, but also includes some who are not working for other reasons.

These findings are based on a survey of 6,162 adults ages 30+ that was conducted from January 7 to February 1, 2022. The sample includes oversamples of Hispanic adults and Black/African American adults. Data for the general sample were collected using NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. To achieve the desired sample sizes of Black adults and Hispanic adults, respondents from the Dynata nonprobability online opt-in panel were included along with AmeriSpeak respondents in order to reach 2,323 completes overall for Black respondents and 2,149 completes overall for Hispanic respondents. TrueNorth® calibration weighting was used in the oversamples to combine the AmeriSpeak and Dynata respondents and reduce bias in the nonprobability sample. 

For more information, contact S. Kathi Brown of AARP Research at skbrown@aarp.org. Media inquiries should be directed to media@aarp.org.

Suggested citation:

Brown, S. Kathi. AARP Financial Security Trends Survey. Washington, DC: AARP Research, March 2022. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00525.001

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