Respect Equality

US LGBTQ+ workers earn 90 cents on the dollar: report

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Story at a glance

  • The LGBTQ+ wage gap in the U.S. is widening, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
  • Wage disparities are especially prevalent among transgender and nonbinary individuals, and LGBTQ+ people of color.
  • The LGBTQ+ wage gap is likely even larger than reported because HRC Foundation researchers were only able to use data from full-time workers.

The LGBTQ+ wage gap in the U.S. is widening, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) said Thursday, with LGBTQ+ workers earning roughly 90 cents on the dollar. Pay disparities are even more pronounced among workers who are transgender, nonbinary or LGBTQ+ people of color.

An HRC Foundation analysis of data from the 2021 LGBTQ+ Community survey found LGBTQ+ workers in the U.S. earn about $900 per week, representing just 90 percent of what the typical worker earns on a weekly basis.

LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender or nonbinary individuals earn the least when compared to their white or cisgender counterparts, according to the report, which also found that LGBTQ+ people of color earn less than white workers overall.

Native American LGBTQ+ workers earn just 70 cents for every dollar the typical worker earns, and Black LGBTQ+ workers earn just 80 cents on the dollar.


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“Despite decades of work to achieve equal pay for equal work, LGBTQ+ workers continue to earn less than their heterosexual and cisgender peers and discrimination throughout the workforce—in hiring, salaries, and promotions—is likely playing a large role,” HRC Senior Vice President of Programs, Research and Training, Jay Brown, said in a statement.

Brown said wage disparities are likely even larger than reported because the group’s analyses are based on data from only full-time workers and don’t account for wages among part-time workers or non-wage earners.

“Earning less impacts every facet of our lives – including access to housing, healthcare and food security – and must be addressed head on,” he said.

Among multiple marginalized workers in the U.S., LGBTQ+ women of color and transgender women face the largest wage gap, the HRC Foundation said.

Earlier research has found that transgender people, particularly trans people of color, are more likely to face economic hardships tied to the pandemic.

In a December report published by the Williams Institute, nearly half of transgender people reported difficulty paying for typical household expenses like food and rent.

According to additional research from the HRC Foundation, in the first quarter of 2021, unemployment among LGBTQ+ adults rose to 22 percent from 15 percent pre-pandemic and, among LGBTQ+ people of color, increased to 24 percent from 17 percent.


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