Are you feeling like whatever financial progress you might have made in the last five or ten years has been erased this past year because of COVID? If so, you’re definitely not alone.
A recent study by Investopedia sheds light on the economic realities for us, and demonstrates the impact COVID had on so many, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.
Researchers attempting to put the findings in context told the Philadelphia Inquirer that LGBTQ+ households work in industries that were more severely hit by COVID-19, such as the hospitality sector and the survival gig economy. While there isn’t much data or analysis on these trends yet, reports on the LGBTQ+ community in general hold that COVID-19 exaggerates underlying vulnerabilities: These communities are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to work in industries negatively impacted by COVID-19, more likely to suffer from underlying conditions, and more likely to lack access to medical care or paid medical leave.
A Human Rights Campaign poll from 2020 indicated that, based on the impact of the first wave of the closures, 17% of LGBTQ+ people had lost jobs because of COVID-19, which was higher than the 13% of people who had lost jobs in the general population. People of color in LGBTQ+ communities, particularly Black and Latinx people, were more adversely affected, reporting a 22% job loss for people of color in LGBTQ+ communities and 14% for Whites in those communities. LGBTQ+ people of color were 44% more likely to take a cut in work hours, and transgender people were 125% more likely to do so.
Historically, whatever gains that LGBTQ people in the workplace have made economically have been in tandem with advances in employment protections. It stands to reason that if job discrimination, wage inequality, and on the job harassment due to our sexuality or gender are outlawed through legislation and court decisions that we can advance in terms of income and wealth. So it should come as no surprise that the four years of Trump’s presidency which saw a frenzy of rolling back federal protections for our community also coincided with a widening income gap as well.
The landmark Supreme Court case last year, Bostock vs. Clayton County (Georgia), will hopefully stem this reversal since it extends protections against employment discrimination to LGBTQ+ people. Legislative protections for all states against discrimination in housing and employment would have an additional equalizing effect, which is why the Equality Act is such an important bulwark for advancing in the future and needs to be passed.