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Survey: LGBTQ+ Americans in Greater Financial Peril Than Others

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LGBTQ+ Americans are experiencing economic distress at a higher rate than their straight and cisgender peers, according to data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Phase 3.2 of the bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, which went out this summer, marked the first time the bureau had asked questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. “By combining a series of three questions, the survey allows researchers to compare the recent experiences of the LGBT population to other adults,” notes a release from the Census Bureau.

The findings, which use the term LGBT instead of The Advocate’s more expansive LGBTQ+, include the following:

About 13.1 percent of LGBT adults lived in a household where there was sometimes or often not enough to eat in the past seven days, compared to 7.2 percent of non-LGBT adults.

Some 36.6 percent of LGBT adults lived in a household that had difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the previous seven days, as opposed to 26.1 percent of non-LGBT adults.

And 19.8 percent of LGBT adults lived in a household with lost employment income in the past four weeks, compared to 16.8 percent of non-LGBT adults.

Among those living in homes that were rented or owned with a mortgage or loan, 8.2 percent of LGBT adults said they were not at all confident that their household will be able to make their next housing payment on time, while just 6 percent of non-LGBT adults said so.

Several LGBTQ+ and other progressive groups commented on the findings. “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,” Jay Brown, Human Rights Campaign senior vice president of programs, research, and training, said in a press release. “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.”

The HRC’s own research has indicated that LGBTQ+ Americans suffer more economic distress than others and that this distress has been worsened by the pandemic, the release notes.

The bureau’s data also back up findings by the Center for American Progress and the research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, according to CAP officials.

Caroline Medina, policy analyst for CAP’s LGBTQ Research and Communications Project, has made many recommendations on how the federal government can address these disparities, such as rescinding a Labor Department rule that allow federal contractors and subcontractors the right to discriminate against people who do not share their religious beliefs; explicitly include LGBTQ identity in the Small Business Administration’s definition of minority-owned businesses to increase access to grants for LGBTQ-owned small businesses; issue guidance to clarify that transgender people are eligible for Labor Department programs for disadvantaged workers and others; and pass President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan, which would do much to support families and combat poverty.

The Household Pulse Survey is sent to about 1 million households every two weeks. This data was collected between July 21 and August 2. Out of slightly more than a million households that received the survey, 64,562 replied. The Census Bureau will continue collecting and releasing data every two weeks.

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