LGBTQ people face higher unemployment amid coronavirus, study claims

A person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Va.Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images file

If you thought businesses, employers, investors and actual COVID-19 victims and their families are hardest hit by the Chinese virus, the media wish to correct you: It is in fact gays, bisexuals, transgenders and other various queer Americans who are once again the victims most deserving of coverage.

Members of these groups are more likely to become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus epidemic than their normal fellow citizens, according to a poll taken by the national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign and reported by NBC News.

“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, to see how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations, including the LGBTQ community,” said Elizabeth Bibi, the campaign’s senior communications adviser.

The report, based on 4,000 participants polled from April 16 to May 6, found that 17 percent of LGBTQ people had lost their jobs because of COVID-19, compared to 13 percent of the general population. Non-white LGBTQ people were disproportionately affected: Twenty-two percent of them reported losing their jobs because of the pandemic, compared to 14 percent of white LGBTQ people surveyed.

The public health crisis is exacerbating existing economic inequalities. Even in good economic times, most LGBTQ people still earn less than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, though this varies by gender identity and sexual orientation.

“The bulk of the evidence is that gay men earn less than heterosexual men whereas lesbians earn more than similarly skilled heterosexual women,” Christopher Carpenter, professor of economics at Vanderbilt University, told NBC News.

“Bisexual people earn less. They always do worse,” he said, adding that researchers are not sure why.


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