The Impact Of A $15 Minimum Wage Among Same Sex Couples

by M.V. Lee Badgett, Alyssa Schneebaum
September 2016

Increases in the minimum wage are being proposed, debated, and passed across the United States. In 2016, New York State and California significantly increased their state minimum wage, and the new rate will reach $15 per hour in 2022 in California, $15 per hour in 2018 in New York City, and $12.50 an hour in New York State in 2020. Research in 2014 suggested that increases in the minimum wage could reduce poverty, including poverty among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. This research brief predicts that raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $15 an hour would reduce LGBT poverty by one-third for male same-sex couples and by almost one-half for female same-sex couples. Almost 30,000 people in same-sex couples would see their incomes rise above the federal poverty level.

In 2014, 14.8% of Americans were living on incomes that fell below the federal poverty line, and many LGBT people were also living on poverty-level incomes. Research has shown that LGBT people face a risk of being poor that is at best equal to that of non-LGBT people with similar characteristics and, at worst, much higher than that of non-LGBT people. Lesbians in same-sex couples and African American LGBT people appear to have the greatest vulnerability to poverty.

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