LGBTQ community to be hit by COVID-19 economic effects
Based on preliminary data collected by multiple LGBTQ advocacy groups, the LGBTQ community in the US will be hit hard by the COVID-19 economic effects, like job losses driven by economic shutdowns.
The community, especially those of people of color and trans people, is already vulnerable due to healthcare and employment discrimination.
One of the effects can be seen in the shutdown of lesbian bars due to statewide regulations.
COVID-19 economic effects and LGBTQ health
Among the states that have the highest number of COVID-19 cases– including California, New York, and Washington– also have the highest number of LGBTQ people.
Thus, they also face issues like unemployment, homelessness, and food insecurity— more than other Americans during this period.
Likewise, around 17 percent of LGBTQ adults don’t have any kind of health insurance coverage, as compared to 12 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“We need to be talking about disparities, especially around race and class, recognizing that people of color have less access to health care,” said Daniel Ramos, executive director for One Colorado.
As it is, LGBTQ advocacy groups have urged for more comprehensive healthcare data on COVID-19, especially with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.
How the COVID-19 economic affects us
For the members of the LGBTQ community that don’t get COVID-19, they have to deal with unemployment or other financial challenges.
“When we think about the kind of economic earthquake that has happened as a result of COVID-19, with job losses and unemployment benefits, there’s a lot of reason to be concerned about the precariousness of LGBTQ people and their families at this moment,” said Naomi Goldberg, Policy Research Director of the Movement Advancement Project.
According to recent estimates by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in a survey they conducted, more than five million LGBTQ workers were likely to have been affected by the economy due to COVID-19.
Many of the jobs in restaurants and food service, hospitals, K-12 and higher education, and retail industries have been affected. These jobs make up about 40 percent of all industries where LGBTQ people work.
The HRC survey found that LGBTQ people were 36 percent more likely than the general population to have lost work due to the shutdown of nonessential businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19.
What’s more, 30 percent of queer and trans respondents said their work hours have been reduced, as opposed to 22 percent of respondents overall.
“LGBTQ people are employed in the industries heavily impacted by the pandemic, such as retail, nightlife, restaurants, and they are more likely to live in poverty, be food insecure, and uninsured,” said Tyrone Hanley, senior policy counsel of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
LGBTQ homelessness and COVID-19 economic effects
What’s more, more job losses and unemployment will lead to more LGBTQ people who will be homeless.
“We estimate that 139,700 transgender adults were unemployed at the time the coronavirus pandemic began,” said Jody L. Herman at the Williams Institute and co-author of a recent report on COVID-19 and transgender Americans.
“Recent job losses due to official orders enforcing social distancing practices will likely increase this number and exacerbate existing employment disparities,” Herman said.
Goldberg warned that LGBTQ people of color tend to face much harsher discrimination because of their ethnicity due in part to barriers like inadequate or non-existent non-discrimination protection for LGBTQ workers.
“We know that with the economic issues arising many of them won’t be able to work at their jobs, or their jobs aren’t remote, meaning they’ll lose a paycheck,” she added.
Other data on LGBTQ community affected by COVID-19
More numbers from the HRC survey, done in partnership with PSB Research, showed that the LGBTQ community feels they are twice as likely as the general public to be “much worse off” financially this year than they were in 2019.
What’s more, 42 percent of them said they cut their household budgets in response to the pandemic, versus 30 percent of overall respondents.
HRC President Alphonso David said the survey– conducted between April 15 and 16– is “more proof that the most marginalized communities are the most at risk” from COVID-19.
“We have seen the health impact of this virus on communities of color, and we now have the data to show how the LGBTQ community is struggling,” David said in a statement to VICE.
HRC’s findings corroborate a report by The Williams Institute that showed high numbers of unemployment claims among queer and trans people because of COVID-19.
Because of this, 183 LGBTQ groups urged Congress to ensure that nondiscrimination protections are included in future COVID-19 relief packages.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ+ Task Force Action Fund, said: “All of who we are should be protected from discrimination no matter where we go, so that those who need help the most get the support they need for themselves and their families.”