On Thursday, a report published by the Institute for Policy Studies says that billionaires in the US have become $565 billion richer since the pandemic began.
According to the report, the total wealth for billionaires is now at $3.5 trillion, the data was up by 19% from the low point near the beginning of the ongoing health crisis. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos alone is worth $36.2 billion more than he was on March 18.
The IPS report calculated the billionaire wealth using data provided by the Forbes Global Billionaires List, a real-time assessment of net worth.
March 18 is used as the starting date because that is the date tied to the 2020 Forbes Global Billionaire survey.It also roughly matches up with when American states and the federal government began imposing health restrictions.
Around 43 million people in the US have filed for initial unemployment benefits since March 18. Workers with lower incomes have been hit particularly hard by the health crisis, especially in the service-sector and travel industry.
The acceleration of wealth for American billionaires is being driven by the extraordinary recovery of the stock market, which has skyrocketed in large part because of unprecedented action from the Federal Reserve.
“The stock market taking off and decoupling from the real economy is exacerbating inequality,” Kristina Hooper said, chief global market strategist at Invesco.
The Nasdaq is on the brink of hitting record highs, an astonishing feat that highlights how quickly Wall Street bounced back despite the ongoing street protests and a record-high of 43 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits.
Meanwhile, the IPS report also found that Facebook rapidly recovered too. Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth has climbed $30.1 billion since March 18.
Other tech power players like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have also amassed more wealth over the past three months. Their net worths climbed by $13 billion or more since March 18, the report says.
While the US is struggling with mass unemployment because of the pandemic, economists say that the unemployment rate is expected to climb to nearly 20%, higher than it’s been since the Great Depression.
“Surging billionaire wealth juxtaposed with the suffering and plight of millions undermines the social solidarity required for us to recover together in the years ahead,” Chuck Collins, co-author of the IPS report, said in a statement.