U.S. Billionaire Wealth Is Up 88% Since the Pandemic—Now Topping $5.5 Trillion

Can we please just tax the rich?

Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo

Jeff Bezos looks on from the McLaren pitwall during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 06, 2023 in Miami, Florida. Dan Istitene - Formula 1 via Getty Images

Four years ago, the United States entered the Covid-19 pandemic. Forbes published its 34th annual billionaire survey shortly after with data keyed to March 18, 2020. On that day, the United States had 614 billionaires who owned a combined wealth of $2.947 trillion.

Four years later, on March 18, 2024, the country has 737 billionaires with a combined wealth of $5.529 trillion, an 87.6 percent increase of $2.58 trillion, according to Institute for Policy Studies calculations of Forbes Real Time Billionaire Data. (Thank you, Forbes!)

The last four years have been great for particular billionaires:

Forbes via Common Dreams

On March 18, 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had wealth valued just under $25 billion. By May 2022, his wealth had surged to $255 billion. As of March 18, 2024, Musk is at $188.5 billion, more than a seven-fold increase in four years.

Over four years, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth increase from $113 billion to 192.8 billion, even after paying out tens of billions in a divorce settlement and donating tens of billions to charity.

Three Walton family members — Jim, Alice, and Rob — are the principal heirs to the Walmart fortune. They saw their combined assets rise from $161.1 billion to $229.6 billion.

In 2020, only one billionaire — Jeff Bezos — had $100 billion or more. Today, the entire top ten are centi-billionaires, bringing their collective wealth to a staggering $1.4 trillion.

The only billionaire on the 2020 top 15 wealthiest Americans list to see their wealth decline in four years was MacKenzie Scott. Four years ago, on March 18, 2020, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos had a net worth of $36 billion. It has declined to $35.4 billion due to her aggressive giving to charity.

For more details on how America’s billionaires have fared since the onset of the pandemic, check out Inequality.org’s updates page.

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Chuck Collins wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Chuck is a director of the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is the author of Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good.
Omar Ocampo is a researcher on the program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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