AARP poll: Cost of living outstrips income for older workers

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Nearly 60 percent of Floridians age 50 and over say expenses are outstripping income and more than half say they will have to delay retirement because they can’t afford to stop working, according to an AARP survey.

The June survey found that the economy is delivering twin blows to non-retirees that is producing financial insecurity;  income is not keeping up with expenses and jobs that don’t provide a pension or access to a pre-tax retirement plan.

“We have a job and wage structure that seems to be leaving people falling further behind,” said Jeff Johnson, the state director for AARP Florida.

The survey scored respondents according to an Economic Anxiety Index. The five components included

  • Pay too much in taxes
  • Income not keeping up with cost of living
  • Not having financial security in retirement
  • Not having enough to pay for home care or nursing home for spouse
  • Health expenses I cannot afford

Respondents were divided between retirees over the age of 50 and non-retirees over the age of 50. The non-retirees scored a 57 on the economic index anxiety while retirees posted a 40. The partisan split was a 54 for Democrats and 57 for Republicans.

Among non-retirees, 64 percent said their income is not keeping pace the cost of living. Johnson noted that it may be in political candidates interests to look into the survey’s results. Ninety-one percent of all respondents said it is important for candidates to address economic issues.

“Incomes are not keeping up with their expenses whether those expenses come from taking care of other family members, or rising health care costs, rising grocery prices and utilities,” said Johnson.

He said the survey was timely given that Florida is in the midst of a gubernatorial election.

“What are the candidates’ plans to address that (falling incomes),” asked Johnson in a telephone conversation. “I can’t say I have heard very strong answers from either side on what they can do.”

Respondents were questioned between June 26 – July 6, and included an oversampling of Hispanic voters and a partisan breakdown of 46 percent Republican, 39 percent Democrat and 15 percent other.

Here are the top issues the AARP survey identified.

  • 73 percent cited  helping older people live independently
  • 71 percent address jobs and the economy
  • 71 percent affordable utilities
  • 68 percent support family caregivers

In the gubernatorial election, Gov. Rick Scott leads Democratic challenger Charlie Crist 47 –to – 40 percent with 13 percent undecided. The margin of error for the survey is 3.5 percent.