Today, President Biden signed executive orders to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The orders include plans to expand the federal nutrition assistance program, pause federal debt payments for veterans, establish a $15 an hour minimum wage for federal employees and employees of contractors, and provide unemployment protections for workers.
Williams Institute research shows that LGBTQ people are disproportionately unemployed, food insecure, and living in poverty. According to data collected before the pandemic began, 9% of LGBT adults were unemployed, 27% experienced food insecurity, 22% were living in poverty. On all measures of economic stability, LGBTQ people of color fare worse than their white counterparts.
Deferment of debts could help many of the estimated 601,000 LGBT veterans in the U.S.
"While millions of Americans are suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic, our research shows that the recession has hit LGBTQ people particularly hard," said Christy Mallory, legal director at the Williams Institute at UCLA. "Before COVID-19, LGBT people were more likely than the general population to experience unemployment, poverty, and food insecurity, and the pandemic has likely only worsened those disparities."
Key findings from Williams Institute research related to today's executive orders include
- Before the pandemic began, 27% of LGBT adults, more than 3 million, experienced food insecurity, including 38% of multiracial people, 37% of Black people, 32% of Latinx people, and 29% of American Indians and Alaskan Natives. One in four LGBT adults were enrolled in SNAP, but about one-third of food-insecure LGBT adults were living just above the SNAP threshold.
- One in three lesbian, bisexual or transgender women and one in five GBT men experienced food insecurity.
- One in five LGBT adults were already living in poverty. LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty than White LGBT people: 37% of Latino/a LGBT people, 32% of American Indian or Alaska Native LGBT people, 31% of Black LGBT people, 29% of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander LGBT people, 23% of Asian LGBT people, and 22% of multiracial LGBT people live in poverty, compared to 15% of white LGBT people.
- Prior to the pandemic, 9% of LGBT adults were unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT adults.
- There are an estimated 8.1 million LGBT workers age 16 and older in the U.S., including 7.1 million LGB workers and 1 million transgender workers.
- Over 200,000 LGBT employees work for the federal government.
- An estimated 22% of workers in the U.S. are employed by federal contractors.
- Raising the minimum wage nationally to $15 per hour would raise the wages of an estimated 1.5 million LGBT people and would lift 30,000 people in same-sex couples out of poverty.
- There are an estimated 601,000 LGBT veterans in the U.S., including163,000who identify as transgender.
- LGBT people and same-sex couples who are raising children are doing so with fewer economic resources than their non-LGBT counterparts.
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.