New survey data from the US Census Bureau shows that LGBTQ adults living in the US are almost twice as likely to struggle with food insecurity compared to cisgender heterosexual peers. They are also more likely to experience economic insecurity compared to non-LGBTQ adults.
The data come from the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the Census Bureau to provide insight into the experience of households during the pandemic. The data is produced and analyzed quickly to inform the government agency of the challenges that the US population is experiencing using nearly real-time data.
In the data from Week 34 of the survey, for the first time ever in a US Census Bureau survey, questions were included about the sexual orientation and gender identity of the participants. This small first step is a window into the inequalities experienced by members of the LGBTQ community in daily life. Invitation to participate in the census was sent to 1,042,642 households and received a total of 64,562 responses, collected between July 21 and August 2 and focusing on the previous seven days.
According to the data, 13.1 percent of LGBTQ adults live in a household where, sometimes or often, there was not enough to eat in the week in question. In comparison, only 7.2 percent of non-LGBTQ people described a similar situation.
Members of the LGBTQ community struggle across the board, the survey showed. Just over 36 percent of LGBTQ adults are in a household that struggles to pay for usual household expenses in the previous seven days, compared to 26.1 non-LGBTQ peers. And 8.2 percent of LGBTQ adults were not confident that they would be able to afford their next housing payment.
Almost one-fifth of LGBTQ adults had a member of their household that had lost their job in the previous month, compared to 16.8 percent of non-LGBTQ adults. Looking into the data further, it is clear that every group in the US is struggling due to the pandemic but systemic discrimination adds a significant burden to minorities, especially minorities within minorities.
Transgender individuals struggle more than cisgender ones. Black, Hispanic (of any race), and people with mixed heritage have less economic security than white and Asian people. People with disabilities have the biggest proportion of economic insecurity, in some cases beyond 70 percent. For individuals with intersectional identities, these barriers and burdens compound putting them in an even more precarious situation.
The US also has the highest gross domestic product in the world and among the highest per capita, with an average per person of over $65,000.