U.S. Billionaire Wealth Has Surged Since The Start Of The Pandemic
NIALL MCCARTHY / FORBES /
Since the start of the pandemic, collective U.S. billionaire wealth has surged by more than $584 billion, while $6.5 trillion in household wealth has disappeared. That's according to an Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness analysis published on Friday which stated that the U.S. billionaire class saw its wealth climb 20% between March 18 and June 17 with 29 new billionaires added to the total. Using Forbes data, the analysis found that the total net worth of the 643 U.S. billionaires climbed from $2.9 trillion to $3.5 trillion. During the same period, 45.5 million Americans filed for unemployment.
America's top five billionaires - Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison - saw their wealth spike by $101.7 billion or 26% since the start of the pandemic. Amazon AMZN +4.1% has been thriving since the initial lockdowns were imposed and that has seen Bezos' fortune grow by $43.7 billion, or 38.6%, in the above three-month period. Likewise, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg added a further $32 billion to his fortune, a three-month growth rate of 58.6%. Outside the top five, 12 U.S. billionaires doubled their wealth since the start of the pandemic and one of them, Trevor Milton, increased his fortune more than five times.
The report noted that total U.S. billionaire wealth increased by twice as much as the federal government paid out in one-time stimulus checks to 150 million Americans. Referring to the inequality chasm, Frank Clemente, the ATF’s executive director, said that "this orgy of wealth shows how fundamentally flawed our economic system is". He added that "if this pandemic reveals anything, it’s how unequal our society has become and how drastically it must change."