The Economic Well-Being of LGBT Adults in the U.S. in 2019

The Economic
Well-Being
of LGBT Adults in the U.S.
in 2019

In The Economic Well-Being of LGBT Adults in the U.S. in 2019, the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR) analyzes data from the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking to create a detailed picture of the financial experiences of LGBT adults before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report finds evidence of significant gaps between LGBT and non-LGBT adults in income, savings, employment, housing, banking & credit, and financial security.

The report also shows the financial experience of LGBT people and the wealth gaps they experience are not uniform. The report documents differences in the financial well-being of LGBT people in the United States based on their race, sex, age, and socio-economic status, showing that Black, Hispanic, and female LGBT adults often experienced the steepest disparities in wealth and were at greatest risk of financial distress in 2019.

Report Highlights

Some key findings of the report include that in 2019:

  • LGBT adults were more often struggling to get by. Fewer than two-thirds of LGBT adults reported they were at least “doing okay” financially (66.1%) in 2019, much less often than non-LGBT adults (77.3%). Black and Hispanic LGBT adults were less likely to report they were doing okay financially. Four in ten Black and Hispanic LGBT adults were “finding it difficult to get by” or “just getting by” (40.6% & 42.7%, respectively).
  • LGBT adults were less likely to think economic conditions in the United States were favorable. Only one in three LGBT adults thought conditions in the U.S. were “excellent” or “good” (35.1%), as compared to more than half of non-LGBT adults. LGBT adults were 1.7x more likely to report economic conditions in the U.S. were “poor” (15.5% vs. 9.1%).
  • LGBT adults were more likely to report low incomes. One in five LGBT households earned less than $25,000 a year, 1.5x more often than non-LGBT households (21.4% vs. 13.0%). One in four female LGBT adults reported earning less than $25,000 a year (24.6%). More than three in ten Black LGBT households reported earning less than $25,000 a year.
  • LGBT adults were more likely to have unpredictable incomes. One in three LGBT adults reported their household income varied occasionally or often (33.1%), as compared to one in four non-LGBT adults (26.0%).
  • LGBT adults were more frequently unemployed and looking for work than non-LGBT adults. More than one in twenty of all LGBT adults were not working and looking for work (6.3%), as compared to 3.5% of non-LGBT adults. One in ten LGBT adults 18-29 years old were unemployed and looking for work (10.6%), more often than non-LGBT peers (8.5%). LGBT adults 30-44 years old were 2x more likely to be unemployed and looking for work than non-LGBT peers (8.4% vs. 4.1%).
  • LGBT households were 1.25x more likely to be unbanked or underbanked than non-LGBT households. More than one in five LGBT households were unbanked or underbanked (23.0%), as compared to 18.0% of non-LGBT households. More than four in ten Black LGBT households were unbanked or underbanked (46.9%), as were three in ten Hispanic LGBT households (37.6%).
  • LGBT adults were nearly 2x more likely to indicate their credit scores were “poor” or “very poor” as compared to non-LGBT adults (16.1% vs. 8.2%). Three in ten Black LGBT adults reported having a “poor” or “very poor” credit score (31.3%), 1.8x more often than their non-LGBT peers (17.1%)—as did more than one in six Hispanic LGBT adults (18.8%), 1.5x more often than their non-LGBT peers.
  • LGBT households were less likely to own their home. Less than half of LGBT adults owned their own home, outright or with a mortgage, slightly more than two-thirds as often as non-LGBT adults (47.0% vs. 69.7%). LGBT homeowners were more likely to have a mortgage than non-LGBT homeowners were (69.2% vs. 62.86%).
  • LGBT homeowners were more likely to report having a higher monthly mortgage payment than their non-LGBT peers. Over half of LGBT homeowners reported paying more than $1,250 a month (54.5%), nearly 1.2x more often than for non- LGBT households (45.5%). Both metro and nonmetro LGBT adults paid more for their mortgages than non-LGBT peers.
  • LGBT adults borrowed more often for their education and borrowed more than non-LGBT adults. Four in ten LGBT adults had borrowed money for their education, 1.4x more often than for non-LGBT adults (44.4% vs. 31.1%). Nearly one in three LGBT student borrowers owed more than $50,000 in educational debt, 1.2x more often than for non-LGBT peers (29.5% vs. 24.2%). One in five indicated owing more than $75,000, 1.4x more often than non-LGBT student borrowers (19.8% vs. 13.7%).
  • LGBT adults were less frequently ready for unexpected costs. More than one in three LGBT adults reported that they would not be able to cover their expenses for three months using borrowing, savings, or selling assets 1.4x more frequently than non-LGBT households (36.3% vs. 25.2%). Three in twenty LGBT adults said they would not be able to afford an unexpected $400 expense at all, 1.5x more often than non-LGBT peers (14.5% vs. 10.0%).
  • LGBT households were more likely to say that they were unable to afford all of their bills that month. Nearly one in five LGBT households said they were unable to afford all of their bills that month, 1.4x more often than non-LGBT adults (19.8% vs. 14.0%). If a $400 expense came up, another one in six LGBT households said that they would be unable to afford all their bills, 1.6x more often than for non-LGBT adults (16.4% vs. 10.1%).
  • Uninsured LGBT adults more frequently paid more out of pocket than non-LGBT peers. One in five LGBT adults without insurance that had paid out-of-pocket expenses had paid more than $5,000 for their care in the past year, 1.8x more often than for non-LGBT peers (21.4% vs. 11.7%).
  • LGBT households had less saved overall and for retirement. LGBT households were 1.3x more likely to have under $500,000 in savings and investments than non-LGBT peers. More than half of LGBT households had less than $50,000 in savings, as compared to four in ten non-LGBT households (55.2% vs. 41.5%). Nearly half of LGBT adults 18 to 24 years old reported having less than $10,000 in retirement savings, 1.4x more often than non-LGBT peers (48.1% vs. 33.2%). Three in ten of LGBT adults 25 to 34 had less than $10,000 in retirement savings, over 1.2x more often than non-LGBT peers (31.1% vs. 25.0%).

Download the Full Report

Use the link below to download The Economic Well-Being of LGBT Adults in 2019 report in full as a PDF.

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