Talk About A Stimulus Package. A Handful of Billionaires Get Rich(er) During Pandemic

Amid the devastation from 2020’s global pandemic, billionaires in the U.S. achieved virtually unprecedented growth in net worth.

American billionaires–most notably Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert and Tesla’s Elon Musk–have seen their net worth rise by almost a trillion dollars since the mid-March onset of the pandemic, according to a survey on Tuesday.

The group of 644 billionaires had a net worth of $3.88 trillion by Oct. 13, up $930.7 billion from March 18, based on a study by the Institute for Policy Studies, and Americans for Tax Fairness that used Forbes data.

The pandemic “winners” list included Gilbert, whose company is now the largest mortgage lender in the U.S., and has seen his net worth rise by 656%; Musk, whose Tesla shares are up 400% this year, had his worth rise 277%; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune increased 85% to $101 billion; Bezos, 80% to $203 billion, keeping him atop the “richest person” list.

“In the short-term we need a robust pandemic relief package that meets the urgency of the moment,” Frank Clemente, executive director of ATF, said. “In the long-term, we need major reform that taxes the extraordinary wealth of the billionaires and millionaires and uses that wealth to create an economy that works for all of us.”

The remarkable boost for the richest of the rich is in stark contrast to what most Americans are experiencing.

More than 210,000 people have died and more than 8 million have been infected with COVID-19. The U.S. has the highest death rate in the world and, as of mid-October, 98,000 businesses permanently closed across the country. Almost 62 million Americans lost work between March 21 and Sept. 19, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The U.S. billionaires’ wealth is nearly double the $2.1 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, or 165 million Americans, the ATF survey showed.

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