LGBTQ+ Workers Make 10% Less Money, Survey Shows

The wage gap varies widely, but trans women earn the least

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People who identify as LGBTQ+ earn an average of 10% less than U.S. workers overall, according to new survey findings from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

While full-time wages for LGBTQ+ workers vary widely by gender, race, and ethnicity, the group overall has a median weekly wage of about $900, the foundation found. That compares to the $1,001 median weekly earnings for all workers, it said, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Transgender women earned the least, a median weekly wage of $600, while Asian Pacific Islander men earned the most—$1,050 a week. 

Though the survey didn't assess why the wage gap exists, discrimination was probably a factor, according to the foundation—the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization. About 5.6% of the U.S. adult population identifies as LGBTQ+, the Gallup polling company said last year. The percentage is higher—15.9%—for younger people, or those born between 1997 and 2002.

“Despite decades of work to achieve equal pay for equal work, LGBTQ+ workers continue to earn less than their heterosexual and cisgender peers and discrimination throughout the workforce—in hiring, salaries, and promotions—is likely playing a large role,” said Jay Brown, a senior vice president for the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.

LGBTQ+ people of color have lower earnings than White workers, which is similar to racial disparities in pay found in the general workforce, the foundation said. Native American LGBTQ+ and Black LGBTQ+ workers were the lowest-paid among LGBTQ+ workers by race. 

The findings are based on a survey of 6,816 LGBTQ+ workers who were employed full-time in the private and public sectors. The survey was conducted in May and June of last year. The foundation doesn't have any earlier data on the wage gap, so it's unclear how it may have changed over time.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Julianne at jslovak@thebalance.com.

Article Sources

  1. Human Rights Campaign Foundation. “Human Rights Campaign Foundation Releases New Data on the LGBTQ+ Wage Gap.” Accessed Jan. 24, 2022.

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “TED: The Economics Daily.” Accessed Jan. 24, 2022.

  3. Gallup. “LGBT Identification Rises to 5.6% in Latest U.S. Estimate.” Accessed Jan 24, 2022.