New Census data confirms LGBTQ+ Americans face increased economic insecurity

The U.S. Census Bureau has released first-of-its-kind data on LGBTQ+ households through the Household Pulse Survey, which measures household experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the results are not great for our community.

Despite the image of LGBQ people as affluent, the survey results showed that LGBTQ+ households were nearly twice as likely to experience food insecurity, and were more likely to experience financial insecurity, lost income, and difficulties making housing payments.

The Census data confirms what the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, has previously reported—that the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately impacted by economic inequality, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Census Bureau’s new data only continues to highlight what we have long known—LGBTQ+ Americans disproportionately bear the brunt of economic hardships from food insecurity to unemployment,” said Jay Brown, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President of Programs, Research and Training. “This disparity is further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the LGBTQ+ community is more likely to work in front-line service jobs, have their hours cut, and face housing and employment discrimination.”

Key findings from the Census survey:

  • Overall, about 13.1% of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household where there was sometimes or often not enough to eat in the past seven days, compared to 7.2% of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
  • 36.6% of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household that had difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the previous seven days, compared to 26.1% of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
  • 19.8% of LGBTQ+ adults lived in a household with lost employment income in the past four weeks, compared to 16.8% of non-LGBTQ+ adults.
  • Among those living in homes that were rented or owned with a mortgage or loan, 8.2% of LGBTQ+ adults said they were not at all confident that their household will be able to make their next housing payment on time, compared to 6% of non-LGBTQ+ adults.

The HRC Foundation issued a brief on the elevated risks facing LGBTQ+ people as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold. HRC estimated that 40% of employed LGBTQ adults work in restaurants and food service, K-12 and higher education, hospitals and retail - industries significantly impacted by the pandemic.

What HRC did during the pandemic:

HRC partnered with PSB Insights to track the economic impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ community throughout 2020. Using polling data from thousands of U.S. adults, HRC released 5 issue briefs on the disparate economic impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ people, LGBTQ people of color, transgender individuals, Black LGBTQ people, and Latinx LGBTQ people. HRC has also released issue briefs on the impact of reopening on LGBTQ people, and LGBTQ people’s concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Key findings from HRC’s research shows that LGBTQ people have been economically struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Throughout the pandemic LGBTQ people have consistently been more likely than the general adult population to have experienced a cut in work hours.
  • LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ people of color, have been more likely than the general adult population and their white counterparts to have become unemployed during the pandemic. HRC tracked an overall seven point increase in unemployment from November 2020 to March 2021 among LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of color.
  • More than half of transgender and transgender people of color had lost work hours in the Summer of 2020, while one in five became unemployed.

Read more about HRC’s efforts during COVID-19 here.

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