US billionaires have increased their net worth by $485 billion during the last 10 weeks of the pandemic, report says

  • US billionaires added almost half a trillion dollars to their collective wealth during the past 10 weeks, a report by the Institute for Policy Studies claims.
  • US billionaires were worth a collective $3.439 trillion as of May 28, up to $485 billion from March 18.
  • Jeff Bezos, founder, and chief executive of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, were the biggest winners, and have seen their combined wealth increase over $63 billion since March 18, the report said.
  • The US also added 16 more billionaires between March 18 and May 28, the think-tank said.
  • US stocks have surged in recent weeks, boosting the wealth of those with large stakes in major companies.
  • More than 40 million people have filed for unemployment benefits over 10 weeks in the week ending May 23, according to the Bureau of Labour statistics. 

US billionaires are almost half a trillion dollars richer than they were before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, new research released by the Institute for Policy Studies claims.

The Institute for Policy Studies this week updated its 2020 Billionaires Bonanza Report – which it first published last month – with the new research showing that US billionaires added $485 billion to their collective fortunes between March 18 and May 28. 

The updated research also shows the US gained 16 more billionaires in those 10 weeks. 

Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, were the biggest winners, and have seen their combined wealth increase over $63 billion since March 18, the report said.

Most billionaires’ increases in wealth in the past few weeks have large been linked to substantial gains in their companies’ stock prices as the markets rally Bezos’ Amazon, for example, has seen shares rise by 42% since hitting recent lows in mid-March, while Facebook’s stock price is up 53% in the same period.

On April 7, Forbes reported in its annual billionaires survey that US billionaire wealth fell from $3.111 trillion in 2019 to $2.947 trillion this year, a loss of $164 billion.

But the Billionaire Bonanza report says these losses have been erased and total US billionaire wealth is now – as of May 28 – $3.439 trillion, a $485 billion increase since March 18 and a $328 billion increase from Forbes’ 2019 global billionaire survey

“The surge in billionaire wealth during a global pandemic underscores the grotesque nature of unequal sacrifice. While millions risk their lives and livelihoods as first responders and front line workers, these billionaires benefit from an economy and tax system that is wired to funnel wealth to the top,” the report said. 

As billionaires have improved their net worths, millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet amid the pandemic. Some 40.7 million citizens have filed for unemployment in the past 10 weeks.

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