Oregon Ranks Third Nationally in Share of Same-Sex Couple Households in 2019

by Polly Farrimond

July 20, 2021

The American Community Survey administered by the United States Census Bureau made some changes in 2017 to the way they collected information from households; the changes were then implemented in the 2019 survey. The wording on the questions about who was living in a household revealed that many same-sex couples were being counted incorrectly. The changes made in relationship to householder and parent identification questions has allowed for better measurement of the specific type of family or living arrangement, especially for same-sex couples and their children. The Census Bureau has detailed findings for 2019 in the report, Same-Sex Couple Households: 2019.

Labor Force

In 2019, about 980,000 households in the United States were same-sex couple households; approximately 58% were married couples and about 42% were unmarried partner households. Among the married and unmarried same-sex couples, there were more female-couple households than male-couple households in 2019. Same-sex married individuals ages 16 to 64 had a higher labor force participation rate at 84.6%, compared with their opposite-sex married peers at 80.4% in 2019. Same-sex married women had a participation rate of 83.2% compared with opposite-sex married women which was 71.4%. Men in opposite-sex relationships had a labor force participation rate of 90.0%, where same-sex married men had a participation rate of 86.2%. Same-sex married couples had a median household income of $107,200, while opposite-sex couples’ median household income was $96,930 in 2019.

Demographics and Children

Same-sex couples are typically younger than opposite-sex couples and are less likely to have at least one member eligible for retirement. In 2019, 26% of opposite-sex couples had at least one person 65 years or older, compared with 16% of same-sex couples. Same-sex couples are more likely than opposite-sex couples to be unmarried. However, the majority of couples are married, with married couples accounting for 58% of same-sex couples and 88% of opposite-sex couples.

Married couples are more likely to live with children under the age of 18, regardless of whether they are an opposite-sex or same-sex couple. Among same-sex married couples in 2019, about 22% had children under age 18, compared with 14% of unmarried same-sex couples. The American Community Survey also found that same-sex partners with children were more likely to be female. With opposite-sex couples, 41% of married couples have children under age 18, compared with 38% of unmarried couples.

People who were married had lower employment rates for both members of the household than people that were unmarried. Opposite-sex couples with children were more likely to have both parents employed at 72%. In contrast 66% of the same-sex couples with children were both employed.


In Oregon, married same-sex couples numbered an estimated 11,759 people or 1.3% of the population, and unmarried couples made up another 8,710 people which accounted for 0.9% of the state’s population. Of the same-sex couples in Oregon, 41.4% were male and 58.6% were female. In 2019 Oregon had the third highest percentage of same-sex couple households in the United States at 2.2%. Of major cities, Portland ranks third in the United States with 2.1% of all households reported as same-sex households behind San Francisco and Washington DC. 
The largest age group of same-sex married persons in Oregon was between 35 and 44 years old. Out of the same-sex married couples in Oregon 25% have children under 18. Of the adults in same-sex couples 31% have a bachelor’s degree, and 30% have a graduate or professional degree. The median household income of opposite-sex partners in Oregon is $96,370, and same-sex couples have a median household income of $90,590.

The improvements that the Census Bureau has made over the past 10 years have resulted in a more accurate measurement of the households that contain same-sex couples. These improvements will allow further exploration of the characteristics of same-sex couples and the cities that they live in.


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