America's Billionaires Got $1.3 Trillion Richer During the Pandemic, While Over 76 Million People Lost Jobs
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw his net worth jump 642% as millions of Americans struggled to keep their jobs.
A recent report from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies found that, during the pandemic, the country's billionaires earned a whopping $1.3 trillion — as an increasing number of Americans lost jobs with employer health coverage.
The study, which was based on information provided by Forbes, tracked the billionaires' wealth between March 18, 2020 and Feb. 19, 2021. It found that the net worth of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is currently the world's richest individual, jumped from $113 billion to $189.3 billion (an increase of 67.5%). SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw the biggest increase in his net worth, which grew from $24.6 billion to $182.6 billion (a spike of 642.2%).
As Inequality.org points out, the $1.3 trillion increase accounts for more than two-thirds of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package. With a total wealth of $4.2 trillion, America's 664 billionaires also account for more wealth than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the 165 million Americans who sit in the bottom half of the population.
The news comes just months after the Commonwealth Fund revealed that as many as 7.7 million workers had lost jobs with employer-sponsored insurance by June 2020. The startling figure is largely attributed to a mostly nationwide shutdown of businesses amid a pandemic. By Jan. 23, 2021 that number swelled as over 76 million people had lost work (with and without employer-sponsored health insurance), data from the Department of Labor shows.
Furthermore, as America's billionaires saw their net worth grow last year, a large number of small businesses shut down. Yelp's Economic Impact Report shows between March and August, nearly 164,000 shops and restaurants on its platform closed their doors, with approximately 60% of those businesses not reopening.
Other billionaires whose earnings grew include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.