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Study: Same-Sex Couples Face Higher Rates of Unemployment

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During large-scale economic downturns such as the one triggered by the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, there are few people who emerge unscathed by its impacts.

But financial hardship does not strike equally. A new study from the Center for American Progress finds that households headed by same-sex couples face higher unemployment rates even well into the economic recovery following the 2008 recession.

The new CAP analysis was made possible after a recent change in the way the U.S. Census Bureau administered its annual Current Population Survey. Newly available information revealed that same-sex couples experienced unemployment at higher rates than Americans as a whole almost every year between 2014 and 2019.

Figure 1. Unemployment rates of opposite-sex couples compared with same-sex couples, 2017-2019. Image courtesy: Center for American Progress.

The same data show that same-sex-couple heads of household are significantly more likely to rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

“This analysis underscores the importance of federal data on the experiences of LGBTQ people and the need for not just data on same-sex couples but on LGBTQ individuals as well. Understanding the needs and experiences of everyone is key to ensuring policies don’t leave members of our community behind,” said Sharita Gruberg, director of policy for the LGBTQ Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress and a co-author of the column.

“High-quality federal statistics are a powerful tool for researchers and policymakers trying to identify and address disparities in our economy. Even with imperfect data that cover a small subset of LGBTQ individuals and households, we can say there were significant differences in key outcomes when the economy was stronger,” added co-author Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center. “With the downturn, these disparities are likely to grow, underscoring the importance of policies that protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination. Unfortunately, we can’t know how the downturn is affecting all LGBTQ workers until we update federal statistics to better reflect the experiences of all Americans.”

Read the column: “Same-Sex Couples Experience Higher Unemployment Rates Throughout an Economic Recovery” by Sharita Gruberg and Michael Madowitz.

Source: Press release

The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. CAP does not support or oppose candidates or political parties.

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june 2020

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