For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Bob Keener, 617-610-6766,

Billionaire Wealth Surges By Over Half Trillion Dollars During the Pandemic

WASHINGTON - U.S. billionaire’s total wealth surged by over $565 billion, an increase of 19.15 percent, since its low point near the beginning of the pandemic, according to calculations to update a report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The figures date from March 18 – the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were in place. During the same 11 weeks, 42.6 million US workers filed for unemployment (1.877 million in the last week). The number of workers receiving jobless benefits is holding steady at 21.5 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"In a turbulent week in the life of the nation, these statistics remind us that we are more economically and racially divided than at any time in decades,” said Chuck Collins, a co-author of the report, Billionaire Bonanza 2020. “Our moral, economic and physical health as a society depends on building a post-pandemic economy that works for everyone, not just the billionaire class. 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."

According to IPS calculations, during the past week, the U.S. billionaire class experienced a $79 billion jump in total wealth, an increase of 2.3 percent. For the group, May 27 wealth was $3,432,979,108,000. At market close yesterday, June 3, total wealth was $3,512,041,310,000.

A graphic showing billionaire wealth vs number of unemployed may be found here: or on this page:

As markets have risen since the start of the pandemic, certain individual fortunes have surged significantly over market gains. In the eleven weeks since March 18, these billionaires have seen their wealth accelerate:

Jeff Bezos - up $36.2bn

Mark Zuckerberg - up $30.1bn

Elon Musk - up $14.1bn

Sergey Brin - up $13.9bn

Larry Page - up $13.7bn

Steve Ballmer - up $13.3bn


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MacKenzie Bezos - up $12.6bn

Michael Bloomberg - up $12.1bn

Bill Gates - up $11.8bn

Phil Knight - up $11.6bn

Larry Ellison - up $8.5bn

Warren Buffett - up $7.7bn

Michael Dell - up $7.6bn

Sheldon Adelson - up $6.1 billion

Editor Notes:

NOTE: IPS uses March 18 as a date for tracking wealth because that is the date tied to this year’s annual Forbes Global Billionaire survey, published on April 7. This year Forbes reported that total U.S. billionaire wealth had declined from its 2019 levels, from $3.111 trillion down to $2.947 trillion. But within weeks, IPS’s Billionaire Bonanza 2020 report found these losses were erased. As of May 28, total U.S. billionaire wealth is $3.439 trillion, not only a $485 billion increase from March 18, but a $328 billion increase over last year’s Forbes 2019 global billionaire survey.

Methodology: Original calculations are based on IPS analysis of data provided by Forbes’ Global Billionaires List. Forbes maintains a real-time assessment of billionaire wealth. Every Wednesday, after markets close, IPS consults that data set and calculates the total net worth of billionaires in the United States. Unemployment data are from the U.S. Dept of Labor.

Read more about IPS’s methodology in the report and in this FACT CHECK by USA Today


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Institute for Policy Studies turns Ideas into Action for Peace, Justice and the Environment. We strengthen social movements with independent research, visionary thinking, and links to the grassroots, scholars and elected officials. I.F. Stone once called IPS "the think tank for the rest of us." Since 1963, we have empowered people to build healthy and democratic societies in communities, the US, and the world. Click here to learn more, or read the latest below.

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