Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Red sign hanging at the glass door of a shop says, "Closed due to coronavirus." (Photo: Getty Images)

On Tax Day, Analysis Shows Billionaire Wealth Growth Since Start of Pandemic Exceeds Total Budget Deficits of 23 US States

"Billionaire wealth is booming during the pandemic while states are drowning in red ink."

A new study out Wednesday shows that billionaires around the U.S. have added to their wealth in the months since the coronavirus pandemic began in March at levels exceeding budget shortfalls due to the economic crisis triggered by the outbreak in 23 states.

"This analysis shows how out of whack our economy has become with handfuls of billionaires in some states experiencing skyrocketing wealth growth that even exceeds the huge state revenue gaps that have opened up due to the coronavirus," said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, which announced the findings for Tax Day.

The analysis details the numbers behind billionaire wealth increases and budget shortfalls:

California's 154 billionaires saw their collective net worth leap $175 billion between March 18 and June 17, three months later. (March 18 is roughly when the coronavirus shutdown began and the date that Forbes published its annual report on the wealth of billionaires.) That's almost double the Golden State's budget gap over the next two years, estimated to be somewhere between $89 billion and $95 billion. Similarly, New York's billionaire class grew $77 billion wealthier during the "pandemic spring," a bonanza almost six times the size of the projected $13.3 billion gap in the state's budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

As Common Dreams reported on July 7, every state but Vermont is consitutionally or statutorially banned from running a deficit, necessitating cuts when revenues are below spending projections.

Economic Policy Institute reseracher Josh Bivens told Common Dreams that budget cuts in the context of the pandemic-triggered recession are a recipe for economic disaster.

"We have noted estimates of the state and local shortfalls between now and the end of 2021 hover around $1 trillion," said Bivens, "and if we do nothing to close that gap, we'll end 2021 with roughly 5 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than we otherwise would have had."

Bivens added that federal aid and taxing the rich are solutions that would work to ease the financial strain on state budgets, a point that Americans for Tax Fairness' Clemente agreed with. 

"A few very wealthy people in states are doing really well, while millions suffer," said Clemente. "If there ever was a wake-up call to make the rich start paying their fair share of taxes this is it."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.


Critics Warn Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan 'Would Facilitate a Wall Street Takeover'

"This deal is a disaster in the making, and it must be rejected."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


GOP State Laws Attacking Trans Kids' Rights Are 'Unconstitutional': DOJ

"We hope that state legislatures finally get the message," said the ACLU, which has filed lawsuits challenging anti-trans legislation.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


'Epic Failure of Humanity': Global Displaced Population Hits All-Time High

"The tragedy of so many children being born into exile should be reason enough to make far greater efforts to prevent and end conflict and violence."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


'A Huge Victory': Biden USDA Moves to Restore Animal Welfare Protections Shredded by Trump

"Finally, USDA will close the loophole allowing factory farms to produce 'organic' eggs and chicken."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·