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Billionaire Pandemic Wealth Gains of 55%, or $1.6 Trillion, Come Amid Three Decades of Rapid Wealth Growth

Whether Tracked Over 1 Year or 31, Billionaire Riches Have Exploded;

Tech & Finance Moguls Have Gained the Most; Now 6 Centi-Billionaires


WASHINGTON, D.C. - April 15, 2021 ( Newswire) Whether measured over 13 months or 31 years, the growth of U.S. billionaire wealth is both astounding and troubling, according to a new analysis of Forbes data from Americans for Tax Reform (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Billionaire wealth growth has perversely accelerated over the 13 months of global pandemic. But the piling up of fortunes at the top has proceeded at a rapid clip for decades even as the net worth of working Americans lagged and public services deteriorated. Tax reforms of the type proposed by President Biden would begin to reverse these damaging trends.

"It's not just during the pandemic—billionaires have been running up the score on average

Americans for decades," said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. "The way to reverse this trend is by making sure the wealthy, and the corporations they own, start paying their fair share of taxes. President Biden is proposing to do just that so we can finally build an economy that works for working families."

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

The full analysis with a table of top billionaires and illustrative charts can be found here.

  • Between March 18, 2020, and April 12, 2021,the collective wealth of American billionaires leapt by $1.62 trillion, or 55%, from $2.95 trillion to $4.56 trillion. [See data table here]. That increase in billionaire wealth alone could pay for nearly 70% of the 10-year, $2.3 trillion cost of President Biden's proposed jobs and infrastructure plan—the American Jobs Plan.
  • On April 12, America's 719 billionaires held over four times more wealth ($4.56 trillion) than all the roughly 165 million Americans in society's bottom half ($1.01 trillion).
  • As of April 12, there were six American "centi-billionaires"—individuals each worth at least $100 billion. That's bigger than the size of the economy of each of 13 of the nation's states. Here's how the wealth of these ultra-billionaires grew during the pandemic:
  • Amazon's Jeff Bezos, almost a "double-centi-billionaire" with a net worth of nearly $197 billion, is up 74% over the last 13 months. If he was still married to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, together they would be worth another $60 billion or so—giving the couple a net worth of a quarter trillion dollars.
  • Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space-X, with $172 billion, up an astounding 599% during the pandemic.
  • Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, worth $130 billion, up 33% since March 2020.
  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has $113.5 billion, a fortune that more than doubled (up 108%) in 13 months.
  • Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett is worth $101 billion, an increase of 50% during the pandemic.
  • Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, is also worth $101 billion, up 71% since March 2020.

About ATF:

Americans for Tax Fairness is a diverse campaign of more than 420 national, state and local endorsing organizations united in support of a fair tax system that works for all Americans. It has come together based on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs.

About IPS:

The Institute for Policy Studies is a multi-issue research center that has conducted ground-breaking research on inequality for more than 20 years. The IPS Program on Inequality and the Common Good, and the website, provide research, advocacy and policy development on issues related to economic inequality.


ATF: Chris Fleming, 202-631-0929
IPS: Bob Keener, 617-610-6767

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