Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

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.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Outrageous and Shameful': Dems May Cut Paid Leave Due to Manchin's Opposition

Decrying the plan, advocacy groups vowed that "the American people are not going to allow that essential human need to be ignored and negotiated away behind closed doors."

Jessica Corbett ·


Open Letter Warns Trump's 'Big Lie' GOP Poses Existential Threat to Democracy

"Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the republic."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ahead of Historic House Hearing, Fresh Big Oil Misinformation Campaign Exposed

"It's always helpful to remember that big fossil fuel companies (besides being overwhelmingly responsible for carbon pollution) are also skeevy disinformation hucksters."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Very Welcome' Progress as Iran Agrees to Restart Talks on Nuclear Deal Sabotaged by Trump

One peace advocate urged all sides to reconvene negotiations "as soon as possible and with renewed urgency" to avert "disastrous" consequences for Iran and the world.

Brett Wilkins ·


House Progressives: 'When We Said These Two Bills Go Together, We Meant It'

"Moving the infrastructure bill forward without the popular Build Back Better Act risks leaving behind working people, families, and our communities."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo