CORONAVIRUS

U.S. Billionaires Grew Wealth By Over $1.3 Trillion In Past Year Of Coronavirus Pandemic

The billionaires saw their net worth increase by nearly 45% over the last 12 months while tens of millions of Americans struggled amid COVID-19.

Billionaires in the U.S. have grown their wealth by nearly 45% — or by more than $1.3 trillion — since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation last March, according to a new report. 

report released by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness on Tuesday tracked the net worth of the wealthiest Americans from March 18, 2020 to March 18, 2021, and found that 43 people had joined the billionaire ranks over this past year, based on data from Forbes.

Among those who’ve seen their wealth grow the most in the last 12 months are Tesla founder Elon Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg.

Meanwhile, over the past year, the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has left tens of millions of Americans unemployed and struggling financially. 

The U.S. unemployment rate was over 6% last month — with about 10 million people considered unemployed — far above the levels of last February, when unemployment was around 3.5% and about 5.7 million were counted as unemployed.

“The pandemic profiteers are extracting windfalls of wealth during a time of widespread suffering for the majority of people,” Chuck Collins, director of IPS’s program on inequality, said in a release.

Findings from IPS's report on the wealth gains of America's billionaires over the past year.
Findings from IPS's report on the wealth gains of America's billionaires over the past year.

As Bezos has seen his net worth swell from $113 billion at the start of the pandemic to over $178 billion a year later — or a 58% increase — Amazon has been aggressively working to quash unionization efforts at its Alabama warehouse. Workers there are fighting for better pay and working conditions.

A spokesperson for Amazon told HuffPost that starting pay was $15.30 per hour and that the company “offers some of the best jobs available.”

More than 542,000 people have died in the U.S. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.