The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Since Pandemic Began U.S. Billionaires' Net Worth Jumps $931 Billion, or Nearly One-Third, as Working Families Suffer

Meanwhile State & Local Government Services Face Deep Cuts as Congress Prioritizes Confirmation of Anti-ACA Supreme Court Justice Over Passing an Overdue Coronavirus Financial Aid Package


The collective wealth of America's billionaires has jumped by $931 billion, or nearly one-third, since mid-March, roughly the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the U.S. economy was reeling from a huge spike in joblessness and a collapse in taxes collected, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

The total net worth of the nation's 644 billionaires has risen from $2.95 trillion on March 18 to $3.88 trillion on October 13 (see spreadsheet of all billionaires ), or 31.6%, based on Forbes billionaires data. This new data from IPS and ATF may be found here and updates ongoing research by IPS begun with the report, Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes and Pandemic Profiteers .

March 18 is the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were put in place. Forbes' annual billionaires report was published March 18, 2020, and the real-time data was collected October 13 from the Forbes website. This analysis was recently favorably reviewed by PolitiFact . The ATF-IPS analysis also looks at wealth growth since February 2019, well before the start of the pandemic and the previous date of Forbes' annual billionaires report.

Despite growing needs and economic hardship caused by the pandemic, President Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans have refused to pass another financial aid package to help working families and to maintain state and local public services. Instead, they have opted to focus on expediting the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice before the election.

Needless to say, ordinary workers did not fare as well as billionaires during the pandemic:

  • Nearly 8.2 million fell ill with the virus and 220,000 died from it [ Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center ]
  • ollective work income of rank-and-file private-sector employees--all hours worked times the hourly wages of the entire bottom 82% of the workforce-- declined by 3.5% from mid-March to mid-September, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
  • Nearly 62 million lost work between Mar. 21 and Sept. 19, 2020 [ U.S. Department of Labor ]
  • 25 million were collecting unemployment on Sept. 19, 2020 [ U.S. Department of Labor ]
  • 98,000 businesses have permanently closed [ Yelp/CNBC ]
  • 12 million have lost employer-sponsored health insurance during the pandemic as of August 26, 2020 [ Economic Policy Institute ]
  • 22 million adults reported not having enough food in the past week between Sep. 2-28, including 14 million with children in the household. [ Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, CBPP ]
  • 1 in 6 renters reported being behind on September rent payments, including 12%of Colorado renters. [ CBPP ]

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.