News Release

Workers Line up for Unemployment; Billionaire Wealth Skyrockets

AP reports this morning: “1.5 million more laid-off workers seek unemployment benefits.”

CHUCK COLLINS, chuck at ips-dc.org; also via Bob Keener, bobk at ips-dc.org
Collins is co-author of the recently released study “Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers.”

U.S. billionaires saw their wealth “increase by 20 percent, or $584 billion, roughly since the beginning of the pandemic, as 45.5 million Americans lost their jobs and the economy cratered,” according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies — Program on Inequality, where Collins works.

Overall, “between March 18 — the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were in place — and June 17, the total net worth of the 640-plus U.S. billionaires jumped from $2.948 trillion to $3.531 trillion, based on the two groups’ analysis of Forbes data. Since March 18, the date Forbes released its annual report on billionaires’ wealth, the U.S. added 29 more billionaires, increasing from 614 to 643.

“The top five billionaires — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison — saw their wealth grow by a total of $101.7 billion, or 26 percent. They captured 17.4 percent of the total wealth growth of all 600-plus billionaires in the last three months. The fortunes of Bezos and Zuckerberg together grew by nearly $76 billion, or 13 percent of the $584 billion total.”

“The last thing U.S. society needs is more economic and racial polarization,” said Collins. “The surge in billionaire wealth and pandemic profiteering undermines the unity and solidarity that the American people will require to recover and grow together, not pull further apart.”