Census Data: Same-Sex Families Hit Twice as Hard by COVID Economic Downturn

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday August 16, 2021

Census data shows that same-sex families in America are twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to be severely hard-hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, NBC News repored.

"Released Wednesday, the latest version of the agency's Household Pulse Survey is the first to include gender identity and sexual orientation," NBC writes.

"Overall, about 13.1% 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% of non-LGBT adults," the official Census website reads..

The site pointed out several other key findings, including "36.6% of LGBT adults lived in a household that had difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the previous seven days, compared to 26.1% of non-LGBT adults"; "19.8% of LGBT adults lived in a household with lost employment income in the past four weeks, compared to 16.8% of non-LGBT adults"; and "Among those living in homes that were rented or owned with a mortgage or loan, 8.2% of LGBT adults said they were not at all confident that their household will be able to make their next housing payment on time, compared to 6.0% of non-LGBT adults."

Another metric —†food insecurity — showed an even starker gap: "LGBTQ households are now nearly twice as likely to experience food insecurity as heterosexual families, 13.1 percent to 7.2 percent," NBC News noted.

The disparities have been growing since even before the pandemic: In 2014, data from the Williams Institute indicates, "18 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults reporting that they or someone in their family went without food for an entire day in the past month," NBC News said. "That's compared to 14 percent of all people who were food insecure, according to U.S.Department of Agriculture figures for that year."

Such economic disparities "have grown more pronounced" over the course of the pandemic, NBC News said, citing professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst M. V. Lee Badgett, author of the book "The Economic Case for LGBT Equality."

"If we're starting out on unequal footing, it's just going to get worse with a pandemic," Badgett told NBC News. "And groups with health disparities, like LGBTQ people, are also going to be hit worse."

The Human Rights Campaign's Jay Brown agreed, saying the new data reconfirm "what we have long known — LGBTQ+ Americans disproportionately bear the brunt of economic hardships, from food insecurity to unemployment."

In fact, with research of its own, conducted with PSB Insights, the HRC found that "LGBTQ people, especially queer people of color, are consistently more likely than the general population to have their work hours cut or to face unemployment," NBC noted, going on to explain that LGBTQ+ workers "are more likely to be employed in the food service industry, hospitals, retail and education," fields that were "all significantly impacted by shutdowns and more likely to expose workers to the virus."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.