Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A demonstrator holding a sign during a protest on January 5, 2021 in Manhattan.

A demonstrator holding a sign during a protest on January 5, 2021 in Manhattan. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

719 Billionaires Now Own Four Times More Wealth Than Poorest 165 Million Americans Combined

"Congress should act to restore taxes on the wealthy and limit further democracy-distorting concentrations of wealth and power."

Jake Johnson

After seeing their fortunes surge during the deadly coronavirus pandemic, America's 719 billionaires are now collectively worth $4.56 trillion—making them over four times wealthier than the roughly 165 million people in the bottom half of U.S. society combined, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness.

"It's not just during the pandemic—billionaires have been running up the score on average Americans for decades."
—Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness

The two groups found that the wealth of U.S. billionaires grew by $1.62 trillion—55%—between March 18, 2020 and April 12, 2021, a period in which millions lost their jobs and more than 500,000 Americans lost their lives to Covid-19.

The 165 million people at the bottom of the wealth distribution, meanwhile, collectively own around $1.01 trillion, far less than the nation's hundreds of billionaires.

IPS and ATF note that in 1990, "the situation was reversed"—adjusted for inflation, the bottom 50% owned $380 billion in combined wealth while the nation's 66 billionaires owned $240 billion.

"It's not just during the pandemic—billionaires have been running up the score on average Americans for decades," said ATF executive director Frank Clemente. "The way to reverse this trend is by making sure the wealthy, and the corporations they own, start paying their fair share of taxes."

Citing Forbes wealth data, the new analysis shows that the U.S. now has six "centi-billionaires," people worth $100 billion or more:

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ($197 billion)
  • Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk ($172 billion)
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($130 billion)
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($113.5 billion)
  • Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett ($101 billion)
  • Oracle founder Larry Ellison ($101 billion)

"This pandemic billionaire wealth surge is a grotesque milestone after three decades of wealth steadily flowing to the top," Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality at IPS, said in a statement. "Congress should act to restore taxes on the wealthy and limit further democracy-distorting concentrations of wealth and power."


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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·


Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·


Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·


Ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg Pleads Guilty to 15 Felonies, Set to Testify Against Trump Organization

The former executive will serve only five months on Rikers Island if he testifies in the upcoming criminal trial of the business.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo