Billionaires in the United States have increased their wealth by nearly 40 percent since the start of the Chinese coronavirus crisis, new analysis finds.
The nation’s 660 billionaires have grown their collective net worth by $1.1 trillion since March 2020, when economic lockdowns closed small and medium-sized businesses, according to analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness.
In March 2020, U.S. billionaires had a combined net worth of just under $3 trillion. Today, that net worth has jumped to $4.1 trillion — a 38.6 percent increase in wealth for the nation’s richest one percent of earners.
At the same time, 18 million Americans remain jobless, 6.2 million are underemployed, and hundreds of thousands of small businesses have been forced to close.
The wealth growth among billionaires has been so vast that 46 former millionaires have become billionaires since the start of the crisis. Their $4.1 trillion combined wealth means that they have more money than the bottom half of earners — 165 million Americans — whose combined wealth stands at $2.4 trillion.
Specifically, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has grown his wealth by more than 60 percent since March 2020 while Tesla CEO Elon Musk has boosted his wealth by 628.5 percent. Similarly, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has raked in 23 percent more during the crisis than before and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has increased his wealth by nearly 70 percent.
The analysis shows the massive gap in economic gains and losses between the nation’s wealthiest and working and middle class Americans who have disproportionately been impacted by the crisis and the subsequent economic lockdowns various state governments have imposed.
Pew Research Center analysis from 2018 found that between the year 2000 and 2016, median household income for middle class Americans has been stagnant while the median household income for working class Americans is less than it was 16 years prior.