The Income & Savings Gap

Discrimination in the workplace leaves LGBTQ consumers with smaller earnings compared to het/cis peers. Smaller earnings leaves less money for LGBTQ consumers to manage expenses, create savings, and buy homes and assets, or save for their retirement and golden years.

Employment & Earnings

Workplace bias creates obstacles to employment for LGBTQ workers: Resumes for gay and lesbian workers receive fewer callbacks than resumes for general applicants;[i] 1-in-10 of LGBTQ workers report discrimination in hiring, promotion, and salary decisions.[ii] Unfair treatment creates difficulties in maintaining employment: HRC reports that 1-in-10 LGBTQ workers in 2018 had left a previous employer because of harassment;[iii] Discriminatory obstacles contribute to higher underemployment: Harvard’s Chan School of Medicine finds that LGBTQ people are twice as likely to be unemployed as het/cis peers.) [iv]

Employment and Income gaps help explain why—despite higher educational attainment on-average—LGBTQ workers earn less than het/cis peers.[v] In recent reporting:

  • Lesbians earn 88% less than heterosexual women.[vi]
  • Gay men make 10% to 32% less than het men.[vii]
  • Bisexual women earn 30% less; men may make slightly more.[viii]
  • Trans people are 4x more likely to make less than $10,000 a year than the general population (15% vs. 4%)[ix]

A 2019 report from the Williams Institute found 1-in-5 LGBTQ people in the United States live in poverty, vs. 1-i­n-10 (16%) of het/cis peers.[x]

Savings & Assets

Despite spending the same portion of their income on discretionary items as het/cis peers,[xi] 4-in-10  LGBTQ consumers (44%) report difficulty maintaining savings.[xii] LGBTQ consumers are less likely to have a savings account (40% of vs.47%) than the general population; also, less likely to own stocks (18% vs. 23%) or mutual funds (15% vs. 21%).[xiii]


The inability to accumulate savings negatively affects LGBTQ financial security and homeownership.  In 2017, Freddie Mac reported that LGBTQ consumers were 75% as likely to be homeowners (49%) than to the general population (64.3%).[xiv] 7-in-10 LGBTQ renters in the report identified insufficient down-payment savings as a critical obstacle that has prevented them from buying a home. [xv]


Lack of ability to create savings also leaves LGBTQ consumers less prepared for retirement.[xvi] LGBTQ consumers are less likely to have employer retirement plans (35% LGBTQ vs. 40% gen. pop.) and much less likely have Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) (18% vs. 30%).[xvii] A lack of retirement savings leaves LGBTQ elders financially insecure and with less ability to care for themselves. Half of LGBTQ seniors (51%) are concerned about having enough money to live on during retirement (vs. 36% het/cis peers); 42% expect to outlive the amount they have saved (vs. 25%).[xviii]


[i] Shaun Pichler, Arup Varma, and Tamara Bruce, “Heterosexism in Employment Decisions: The Role of Job Misfit,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 40 (2010): 2527-2555; András Tilcsik, “Pride andPrejudice: Employment Discrimination against Openly Gay Men in the United States,” American Journal of Sociology 117 (2011): 586-626; Make the Road New York, “Transgender Need Not Apply: AReport on Gender Identity Job Discrimination,” March 2010 (updated May 2010), accessed February 28, 2013,

[ii]Respondents to Experian reported discrimination leading to lower salary or chance of promotion (10%) and hiring (12%). Akin, supra note 1; respondents to the National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, 27% of respondents reported not being hired, 26% not being promoted, and 18% being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. SAGE, Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults, SAGE 6 (2018)

[iii] HRC, A Workplace Divided, HRC 7 (2018)

[iv] Brittany M Charlton et. al, Sexual orientation-related disparities in employment, health insurance, healthcare access and health-related quality of life: a cohort study of US male and female adolescents and young adults, BMJ Open (July 26, 2018)

[v] M.V. Lee Badgett, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Gays and Lesbians, University of Chicago Press 34 (July 1995).

[vi] Prudential, The LGBT Financial Experience, Prudential 8 (2017) (hereinafter, Prudential (2017).

[vii] Center for American Progress, Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being LGBT in America, Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project 20 (November 2014)

[viii] Prudential (2017), supra note 7 at 8.

[ix] Jaime M. Grant, Lisa A. Mottet, Justin Tanis, Jack Harrison, Jody L. Herman, and Mara Keisling, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” National Center for

Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2011)

[x] One in five (21%) LGBT people in urban areas live in poverty, and one in four (26.1%) in rural areas are poor, compared to about 16% of cisgender straight people in both areas.

[xi] Prudential reports LGBTQ vs. het/cis allocation of income, showing spending for necessities (51% LGBT vs. 47% het/cis), debt (15% vs. 14%), discretionary items (14% vs. 14%), and savings (20% vs. 25%). Prudential (2017) at 7.

[xii] Experian (2018), supra note 1.

[xiii] Prudential (2017), supra note 13 at 8.

[xiv] Community Market Insights, The LGBT Community: Buying and Renting Homes, Freddie Mac (3) (2018)

[xv] Id. at 48.

[xvi] Miranda Marquit, Survey: 60% of LGBTQ Student Borrowers Regret Taking Out Student Loans, StudentLoanHero (December 3 2018)

[xvii] Prudential (2017), supra note 13.

[xviii] And 44% of LGBT older people are very or extremely concerned that they will have to work well beyond retirement age in order to have enough money to live, as compared to 26% of non-LGBT people. SAGE, Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of LGBT Older Adults, SAGE 8 (2014)

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