Black LGBTQ Folks Feeling Economic Fallout of COVID-19 Hardest

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said the new data confirms earlier findings that marginalized communities continue to face the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donna Aceto

Black LGBTQ individuals have disproportionately felt the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic compared to the Black population, LGBTQ people as a group, and the general population, according to research by PSB Insights and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The new report, which follows a similar study broadly examining the economic impact of COVID on queer people of color, specifically zeroes in on how Black queer folks have fared during the pandemic in terms of employment status, budgeting, and ability to pay bills.

Notably, Black individuals have endured tragic health consequences stemming from the pandemic. Black folks have made up 23 percent of COVID-19 deaths despite representing just 13 percent of the US population. And while Black folks also bear the brunt of the economic impact of the crisis, queer Black individuals are feeling even more profound effects.

New research follows previous report on economic plight of people of color during the pandemic

The new research found that 31 percent of Black LGBTQ individuals saw a reduction in their hours at work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 23 percent of Black respondents, 28 percent of LGBTQ respondents, and 22 percent of the general sample population. Furthermore, 18 percent of Black LGBTQ respondents said they became unemployed during the pandemic, compared to 16 percent of Black respondents and LGBTQ people and 12 percent of the general sample population.

The questions presented to the roughly 10,000 people who responded to the 10 online surveys between April and July yielded answers that reflected a pattern: Black queer respondents have fared the worst, followed by LGBTQ people in general, and then the Black population and the general population. In several cases, however, the impacts on the Black population as a whole were more severe than on the LGBTQ community taken as a group.

For example, 36 percent of Black LGBTQ respondents said they have altered their household budgets during the pandemic, compared to 27 percent of Black respondents, 30 percent of LGBTQ respondents, and 26 percent of the general population. Twenty-eight percent of Black LGBTQ respondents said they have withdrawn more money from the bank, far more than the 15 percent of Black respondents, 18 percent of LGBTQ respondents, and 13 percent of respondents in the general population who answered the same way.

In response to a similar question, 20 percent of Black LGBTQ respondents said they checked whether their bank account had been overdrafted, compared to just 14 percent of both Black respondents and LGBTQ respondents. Ten percent of respondents in the general population said they checked whether they overdrafted their account.

The affordability crisis emerging from the coronavirus pandemic has also included housing costs. Activists have spent months pushing for rent relief for tenants, which is an issue that is becoming exacerbated by the recent expiration of weekly unemployment checks supplemented by a $600 increase.

In the survey, 23 percent of Black LGBTQ respondents said they have had to ask for delays in paying rent, nearly double that of the 12 percent of Black respondents who answered the same way. Eleven percent of LGBTQ respondents and seven percent of the general population said they have also had to ask for delays in paying rent.

Similarly, 21 percent of Black LGBTQ respondents have had to delay paying bills compared to 17 percent of Black respondents, 14 percent of LGBT respondents, and 12 percent of the general population.

“The data make clear what we have long known: that those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities face harsher consequences of the pandemic,” HRC president Alphonso David said in a written statement. “It is a clarion call to policymakers that we must do all we can to combat the virus and its economic impact on multiple marginalized communities.”

Surveys published by HRC and PSB Reserach in May also found that queer people of color have also faced higher rates of unemployment, reductions in hours at work, and inability to pay rent or bills compared to the general population. That data set specifically included white LGBTQ people and therefore more explicitly revealed racial differences. Twenty-two percent of LGBQ people of color involved in that research said they became unemployed compared to 14 percent of white LGBTQ people and 13 percent of people in the general population who lost their jobs.

The data released this month, however, does not provide racial comparisons beyond Black respondents and all respondents. Furthermore, sample sizes for Black transgender and non-binary individuals were too small to yield reliable estimates, according to researchers.

The exclusive use of online surveys in this data is also an important caveat because the pool of respondents would be limited to those who have internet access. An age breakdown of respondents was also not provided and HRC did not directly respond to an email seeking that information.

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