Respect Poverty

More than twice as many LGBTQ+ people of color are taking pay cuts as states reopen

an illustration of a man cutting a paycheck with coronavirus germs in the air

Story at a glance

  • LGBTQ+ Americans of color are bearing much of the economic burden as the country continues reopening.
  • New research from the Human Rights Campaign and PSB Insights shows LGBTQ+ employees are more likely than the general populations to take pay cuts, unpaid leave or even lose their jobs entirely.
  • With Congress stalled on a coronavirus relief bill, it’s unclear if these Americans will get the help they need.

LGBTQ+ people of color are more than twice as likely to have taken a pay cut since some states began reopening than the general population, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign and PSB Insights. 

One-fifth of LGBTQ people of color have taken a pay cut in recent months, making them 150 percent more likely to see a shrink in their paycheck than others, while LGBTQ+ employees as a whole were 50 percent more likely to have taken a pay cut, according to the report. 

“As some communities start to go back to work, many times in fear and without choice, we’re seeing that LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ people of color and transgender people, are being left behind,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a release. “Moreover, LGBTQ people who are able to return to work are taking pay cuts in order to do so. The data continues to reinforce what we already know — that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is not over because the pandemic is not over, especially for communities who were already marginalized in this country.”  


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When states first began reopening in May, the HRC reported that LGBTQ+ people were more likely than the general population to have had their work hours cut and feel their personal finances are worse off than before the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of the summer, LGBTQ+ Americans are 30 percent more likely to have lost their jobs as more states reopened — a number that more than doubles to 70 percent for LGBTQ+ people of color. 

LGBTQ+ Americans are more likely than the general population to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care during the pandemic as well, research shows, issues that are compounded for Black, Indigenous and other LGBTQ+ people of color. 

At the same time, during an ongoing global pandemic, some LGBTQ+ employees are still dependent on unpaid leave if they or their families get sick. While reopening policies in some states have decreased the percentage of the general population and LGBTQ+ population as a whole having to take unpaid leave, that number has increased for LGBTQ+ people of color by 23 percent and transgender people by 4 percent.


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