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40 percent of private industry workers had access to health benefits for same-sex partners in 2018

June 24, 2019

When BLS first collected data in 2011 on benefits for the unmarried domestic partners of workers, many states still prohibited same-sex couples from marrying. In 2011, 29 percent of private industry workers and 33 percent of state and local government workers had access to healthcare benefits for unmarried same-sex partners. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that U.S. states and territories and the District of Columbia must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples the same as the marriages of opposite-sex couples. We have continued collecting data on benefits for unmarried domestic partners after the Supreme Court ruling. Larger shares of workers in 2018 had access to healthcare benefits for unmarried same-sex partners than in 2011. In 2018, 40 percent of private industry workers and 48 percent of state and local government workers had access to these benefits.

Percent of workers in private industry and state and local government with access to healthcare benefits for unmarried domestic partners
Year Same-sex partners, private industry Opposite-sex partners, private industry Same-sex partners, state and local government Opposite-sex partners, state and local government

2011

29% 25% 33% 28%

2012

30 25 33 28

2013

31 26 33 28

2014

35 30 34 28

2015

37 32 34 29

2016

39 35 35 29

2017

39 35 48 43

2018

40 36 48 44

The share of workers with access to healthcare benefits for unmarried opposite-sex partners also increased from 2011 to 2018. Thirty-sex percent of private industry workers had access to healthcare benefits for unmarried opposite-sex partners in 2018, compared with 25 percent in 2011. In state and local government, 44 percent of workers in 2018 had access to healthcare benefits for unmarried opposite-sex partners, compared with 28 percent in 2011.

These data are from the National Compensation Survey — Benefits program. Data on benefits for unmarried domestic partners are available in Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2018. The article Employer-sponsored benefits extended to domestic partners explains these data in more detail.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, 40 percent of private industry workers had access to health benefits for same-sex partners in 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/40-percent-of-private-industry-workers-had-access-to-health-benefits-for-same-sex-partners-in-2018.htm (visited October 22, 2019).

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