Older LGBT people twice as likely to be laid off during the pandemic as non-LGBT people

Data collected in fall 2020 finds that LGBT people ages 45 and older—in particular older LGBT people of color—have disproportionately experienced the economic impacts of COVID-19 compared to older non-LGBT people, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.  

Older LGBT people (ages 45 and older) were more likely than older non-LGBT people to have been recently laid off (11% v. 6%) or furloughed (13% v. 9%) from their jobs, have problems affording basic household goods (21% v. 14%), and have problems paying their rent or mortgage (15% v. 8%).  

Using data from a nationally representative sample of adults collected by Axios-Ipsos between August and December 2020, researchers found that older LGBT people of color were significantly more likely to experience financial insecurity related to the pandemic. They were twice as likely to report struggling to pay for household goods and their rent or mortgage as older white LGBT people. 

“The impact of the pandemic on older LGBT people—and older LGBT people of color specifically—must be taken into account as the federal government establishes interventions to address the public health crisis and to support to those most economically affected by COVID-19,” said lead author Christy Mallory, Legal Director at the Williams Institute. 

Additional Findings 

Health Impacts 

  • Among those who have tested for COVID-19, 8% of LGBT people ages 45 and older had tested positive. This rate was similar for older non-LGBT adults.  
  • Both older LGBT people of color (34%) and older non-LGBT people of color (37%) were more likely than older white LGBT people (20%) and older white non-LGBT people (21%) to personally know someone who died of COVID-19.  

Economic Impacts 

  • Older LGBT people of color were twice as likely to have been laid off as older non-LGBT people of color, and at least three times as likely to have been laid off as older white LGBT and non-LGBT people.  
  • Nearly one-third of LGBT people of color ages 45 and older reported that their ability to pay for household goods got worse during the pandemic, and one-fourth said their ability to pay their rent or mortgage got worse.  

Public Health Recommendations 

  • Older LGBT people and non-LGBT people were more likely to follow recommended public health measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask, than younger people.  
  • About half of older LGBT (55%) and older non-LGBT (49%) people said they intended to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it became available to them.  


  • During the last few months of the Trump administration, older LGBT people were less likely than older non-LGBT people to report that they trusted the federal government to provide accurate information about COVID-19 (33% v. 40%).  
  • In contrast, more older LGBT people than older non-LGBT people reported trusting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (76% vs 70%). 
  • Only 36% of older LGBT people felt that pharmaceutical companies had their best interest in mind, compared to 45% of older non-LGBT people. 

“Most government surveys, including those focused on COVID-19, do not include sexual orientation and gender identity measures,” said study author Brad Sears, Founding Executive Director at the Williams Institute. “This omission hinders efforts to adequately assess and address the needs of LGBT populations in COVID-19 recovery efforts.” 

Read the report 

May 27, 2021

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