Understanding the region’s senior population can help communities plan for the needs of this growing group.
Race and ethnicity: Most seniors in northeastern Illinois (85 percent) are white; however, since 2014 the region’s senior population, like that of the general population, has diversified. Between 2014 and 2018, the region’s Asian senior population increased by almost a quarter percent, while the Hispanic senior population grew by 17 percent. This mirrors the increases among the Asian and Hispanic populations, which increased by 10 percent and 3 percent, respectively. The Black senior population increased by 10 percent, although the region’s overall Black population has declined every year since at least 2005.
Employment: A CMAP analysis of labor force participation rates showed that about 20 percent of seniors across the region are in the labor force. Overall, metropolitan Chicago’s workforce is aging, and labor force participation among older adults (55 and older) is increasing. The median income for the region’s senior population is $51,000, compared to $70,444 for the population as a whole. The vast majority (89 percent) of the region’s seniors rely on social security income.
Housing: Most of the region’s seniors own their home (83 percent), while 17 percent rent. Seniors who rent are more likely to experience housing cost burden — or spend more than 30 percent of their household income on housing — compared to seniors who own. On average, senior households who rent also tend to be smaller than senior households who own (1.5 and 2 occupants, respectively).
Disability: About 32 percent of the region’s seniors have a disability, compared to 10 percent of the total population. The number of seniors with disabilities increased by 21,000 residents, or 6 percent, between 2014 and 2018. Comparatively, the number of all residents with disabilities in the region increased by 11,686 people, or 1.5 percent.
The most common type of disability among the region’s senior population is an ambulatory disability — serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs — followed by independent living difficulties. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of seniors with these types of disabilities increased by 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The largest increase in the number of seniors with disabilities occurred in the southwest areas of the region.