Census Bureau Releases Data On Same-Sex Households Finances


The recently released Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2019 shares some data about where American same-sex couples are located, how much they earn, and even their genders. I am proud to be half of one of the reported 980,000 same-sex households included in the survey. How far the LGBTQ+ community has come and how much we still need to do simply to maintain our current rights and status. We obtained the right to marry (nationally) with the help of the Supreme Court. If Trump is allowed to replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our right could be in jeopardy.  

On a happier note, this weekend, I am celebrating my six-year anniversary of being legally married to my wonderful husband. How time flies! Just five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, bringing marriage equality to the entire country for the first time. Since then, more than a half-million households are made up of married, same-sex couples, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.

As a gay financial planner in West Hollywood, I am happy to see the LGBTQ community included in this survey and others. While we still face many financial challenges as a community, we are being treated like second class citizens less and less. Please register and vote in 2020 like your basic rights are at stake, because they are. Wider acceptance of same-sex couples helps us all live happier, healthier lives as well as make wiser financial choices.

Data on Same-Sex Couples from the Survey

The data highlights the difference between male and female households. The survey also includes both married and unmarried same-sex couples. Of the 980,000 households in the survey, 58% were married, with the remaining 42% living together, but not legally wed. There were slightly more female-led households than males. Marriage has been shown to increase the household net worth over time, so an increasing number of same-sex married couples is positive for the LGBTQ community.

This survey does not represent the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender population of the U.S. It only included same-sex households, which excludes single LGBTQ people. Also, the survey might have missed couples where one or both parties are transgender. Unfortunately, more detailed data collection on all LGBTQ+ Americans was specifically blocked by the Trump administration in 2018. While the President has claimed to be the most gay-friendly President ever, he does have a reputation for not being truthful (some might say delusional). Although we would love to see more in-depth data collection, the survey still highlights data on the LGBTQ+ community on a scale we have rarely seen.

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Income Data for Gay and Lesbian Couples

On average, same-sex households make more money than opposite-sex couples with gay male couples earning a combined $107,210, annually, and opposite-sex couples making $96,932. This higher income may not be as great as it sounds when taking into account the great occurrence of two-income households among gay and lesbian couples. We still likely suffer from pay discrimination as LGBT employees. Similarly, when broken down by gender, though, the inequality of women’s wages becomes apparent — gay male-led households earn $123,646 while female-led households earn just $87,690. Lesbians are making just 71 cents for every dollar earned by gay couples. Several years ago, I wrote about this very topic for the Financial Planner LA blog, and this finding backs up data from the U.S. Treasury, which shows gay male couples make more money, on average.

One census stat I found interesting was that more women, who are married to another woman, are in the workforce compared to women who are married to men. The opposite was true for men; fewer men, married to men, were employed than men who were married to women. Depending on work status and career choices, this could help account for part of the wage gap between working gay men and lesbians.

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LGBTQ Parenting

A separate survey, with results released at the same time as the Census Bureau data, showed about 15% of same-sex couples had at least one child younger than 18. This statistic is sharply lower than the 37.8% of opposite-sex couples, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. I do not think anyone is surprised that more opposite sex-couples have children at home. That being said, it is nice to see that more gay couples are starting families (just my personal opinion).

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Where Do LGBT People Live?

Interestingly, Washington, D.C. had the highest concentration of same-sex couple households at 2.4 percent, followed by Delaware (1.3%), Oregon (1.2%), Massachusetts (1.2%), and Washington State (1.1%). I would love to see how these concentration statistics would vary with single LGBTQ+ included.

In the survey, the average age of a respondent in a same-sex marriage was 48, and the average age of the spouse was 47. Of those who responded to the survey as being in a same-sex, married household, 82% identified as white, almost 7% identified themselves as black, and almost 4% were Asian. More than 13% identified as Hispanic. More than 16% of same-sex, married households were interracial couples, double the rate for opposite-sex, married couples.

The 2019 American Community Survey, for the first time, included updated relationship categories that better captured the characteristics and number of same-sex households in the U.S. than in years past.