CHARLESTON SC – MARCH 28: Tourist walk past a homeless person smokes and sits on a pavement .March … [+]
The year 2019 draws to a close with major indications of a strong U.S. economy, according to business columnist Jonathon Trugman of the New York Post: GDP growth of between 2 and 3%, 159 million Americans employed — a historic milestone — with 3.6% unemployment and average hourly earnings up more than 3% this year. Investors did extremely well this year, Trugman boasts, with all the major indices up more than 20%.
But for those Americans living in poverty, those numbers don’t necessarily mean a better life, especially if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reveals that members of the U.S. LGBT community in a majority of states experience higher rates of poverty compared to their straight, cisgender neighbors.
According to researchers Soon Kyu Choi, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Bianca D.M. Wilson, LGBT Americans living in Southern states have it hardest: almost one in four are poor.
Here are the numbers: In the South, the study found 24% of LGBT adults are living in poverty, closely followed by 23% in the Midwest, 22% in the West, and 18% in the Northeast.
“There is so much more to learn about LGBT poverty in individual states,” lead author Soon Kyu Choi, project manager at the Williams Institute, said in a statement. “We need to better understand the connection between differing poverty rates across states with variations in LGBT related public policies and public attitudes that may limit economic opportunities for LGBT people.”
Choi and her team analyzed data from the 2014-2017 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS, a health survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The BRFSS collects state data on health-related risk factors and conditions among adults. Because fewer than three dozen states participated in the module that asks respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity, the study is limited to those 35 states.
Some key findings:
- Transgender people have higher poverty rates than do cisgender Americans in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Ohio and Washington State.
- LGBT people of color in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio have higher poverty rates than white LGBT people in those Midwestern states.
- Florida is the lone Southern state where LGBT people are less likely to be poor than cisgender straight people.
- In Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, rural LGBT people have higher poverty rates than urban LGBT people.
- In West Virginia, the urban LGBT poverty rate is higher than the rural LGBT poverty rate.
The researchers say they did not collect data from LGBT youth, so there’s no information about LGBT people under age 18, or LGBT people of any age in the 15 states that do not collect the data.
In addition to poverty rates, the researchers also examined gender, race, age, and urban-rural residence in some states, since those social statuses traditionally contribute to economic stability.