LGBTQ poverty dropped to 17% during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Graph for illustration only
Graph for illustration only

Economic well-being increased most among LGBTQ people of color and in households with children. A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds a dramatic decrease in the number of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people experiencing poverty since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proportion of LGBTQ people experiencing poverty dropped from 23% in 2020 to 17% in 2021. During the same period, poverty declined from 16% to 12% for non-LGBTQ people.

In 2021, poverty decreased for all subpopulations of LGBTQ people except cisgender lesbian women. The most notable declines in poverty from 2020 to 2021 were seen among transgender people (35% to 21%) and cisgender bisexual women (30% to 20%). LGBT households with children also experienced a significant drop in poverty. The poverty rate of cisgender bisexual women (42% to 27%) and transgender people (52% to 26%) with children decreased considerably between 2020 and 2021.

Researchers analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey to examine the rates of poverty among LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report is an update to the Williams Institute’s 2019 LGBT Poverty in the United States report. “Recent studies have suggested the drop in poverty after 2020 in the general population is a sign of the positive impact of the COVID-19 stimulus programs,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute.

“Future research should examine how disparities in eligibility and access to these types of social programs may contribute to the differences in poverty among LGBT subgroups,” said Wilson in her comments.