U.S. billionaires have grown their wealth by more than $1trillion since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, an increase of over a third, according to a new report.
The analysis found that the 650 billionaires gained $1.008 trillion in wealth between March 18, 2020 and November 24, 2020 and are now worth a combined total that is close to $4trillion.
Of this group, 29 billionaires doubled their wealth since March and 36 new billionaires have been made.
It comes as many American are struggling following the economic impact of coronavirus lockdowns, with fears of further shutdowns remaining as cases across the country rise.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos added in incredible $70.7 billion to his wealth since mid-March
Elon Musk, pictured left, saw his wealth grow over $100 billion since the start of the pandemic. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s, pictured right, wealth also grew by $47.8 billion
John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, saw his wealth increase over $635million
FACT BOX TITLE
Elon Musk (Space X) – $100billion
Jeff Bezos (Amazon) – $70billion
Rob, Jim, and Alice Walton (Walmart) – $48billion
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) $47.8billion
Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans) – $37billion
Steve Ballmer (owner of Microsoft and its TEAMS video conferencing) – $21billion
Eric Yuan (Zoom) – $17billion
Steve Schwarzman (Blackstone Group) – $4.1billlion
Henry Kravis (KKR & Co) – $1.4billion
John Tyson (Tyson Foods) – $600million
The report, from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), revealed Amazon’s Bezos has added an incredible $70.7 billion to his wealth since mid-March, while an estimated 20,000 of the company’s workers have been infected by the coronavirus.
The largest growth has been made by Elon Musk, however, whose wealth grew over $100 billion since the start of the pandemic, from $24.6 billion on March 18 to $126 billion on November 24.
The increase of 413 percent, aided by the boost in his Tesla stock, has left him more wealthy than even Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth also grew by $47.8 billion, from $54.7 billion on March 18 to $102.4 billion on November 17, an increase of 87 percent.
Among those whose wealth has rapidly grown in the past few months is chairman of Quicken Loans Dan Gilbert.
He saw his wealth rocket by over $37 billion, from $6.5 billion in March to $43.9 billion on November 24, 2020.
That’s an increase of 575 percent, stemming from the increasing dependence on online financial services and telemedicine caused by the pandemic.
The change from office space to remote working also boosted the wealth of the likes of Zoom’s Eric Yuan, who wasn’t even a billionaire in 2019.
Now his wealth is over $17 billion.
Steve Ballmer, a major owner of Microsoft and its TEAMS video conferencing, has also seen his wealth increase by $21 billion since March 18, an increase of 40 percent, as a result of the transition to working from home.
The group’s analysis found that the wealth of these 650 billionaires is twice the amount of wealth of the bottom 50 percent of U.S. households, equally 160million people.
Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart became an instant billionaire in June 2020
Yet Instacart has been criticized for not protecting its workers, pictured
The report also named Bezos, Tyson Food’s John Tyson, Walmart owners the Walton Family, Target’s Brian Cornell and Instacart’s Apoorva Mehta among a ‘Delinquent Dozen’ of companies, CEOs and owners who made soaring profits as their workers struggled through the pandemic.
Bezos has seen his net worth grow by 61 percent from $113 billion to $182.4 billion since March yet his workers do not receive hazard pay and have been infected by coronavirus in their thousands.
He has joined the world’s five ‘centi-billionaires’ — people with a net worth over $100 billion — alongside Louis Vuitton chairman Bernard Arnault, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, and Musk.
Three years ago, there were no centi-billionaires, according to the report.
A security guard directs customers to enter the Walmart Supercenter amid the pandemic
Walmarts owners, the Walton family, have also been criticized for failing to protect their workers during the pandemic. Pictured Rob, Alice and Jim Walton speak in 2018
Amazon has defended its treatment of workers, however, telling the Huffington Post that ‘nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees’.
It added that staff were all provided with provided masks and gloves, as well as on-site COVID-19 testing in certain locations, and that it pays workers at least $15 per hour.
Billionaire owner of Tyson Foods, John Tyson, has also seen his personal wealth increase over $635million since the beginning of the pandemic as an estimated 11,000 Tyson workers have been infected.
Tyson plants became hotspots early in the pandemic causes fears for the food supply and for workers as the coronavirus spread rapidly due to the close working conditions.
The three owners of Walmart, Rob, Jim and Alice Walton, have seen their combined personal wealth increase over $48 billion since the beginning of the pandemic, about a 30 percent increase.
Pictured, an independent contractor picks up an Amazon.com Inc. Prime grocery bag at the start of the pandemic. The company was criticized as 20,000 workers were infected
Tyson Foods plant in Iowa that became a major coronavirus hotspot in March
Yet, the company’s workers have not been supplied with hazard pay for working during the pandemic despite the profits.
Instacart’s profits also surged drastically during the pandemic as more and more people called on its grocery delivery service so they could remain at home.
Its CEO and founder Apoorva Mehta became an instant billionaire in June 2020 and is now worth $1.6 billion, even before his company goes public in early 2021.
Yet Instacart has also been accused by workers of failing to provide adequate protections for workers after hiring 300,000 new people this year.
According to the report, ten of the billionaire owners of seven of these ‘Delinquent Dozen’ companies have a combined wealth of $433 billion.
Delinquent Dozen Companies
- Tyson Foods
- Dollar General and Dollar Tree
- Leonard Green Partners (Prospect Health)
- Blackstone (TeamHealth)
- Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co. (Envision Health)
- Cerberus Capital (Albertsons, Safeway and sold Steward Health)
- BC Partners (PetSmart)
- CVC Capital Partners (Petco)
Since March 18, 2020, their combined personal wealth has increased $127.5 billion, an increase of 42 percent.
Workers have spoken out about their treatment as their boss’s profits grow further.
‘While Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is on track to become the world’s first trillionaire, the frontline workers like me who’ve built his fortune are treated like we’re disposable,’ said Courtenay Brown, an Amazon Fresh warehouse worker in New Jersey and leader with United for Respect.
‘As the virus spikes, we get more and more orders, and Amazon expects us to work at inhumane rates. The pace is blistering, and people get injured on the job a lot, people get sick, people are scared of catching COVID, and Amazon is not doing enough to protect our lives.
‘It’s time for Amazon’s workers to get some actual compensation for the essential work we’re doing — we don’t need feel-good TV commercials thanking us for being heroes, we need $5 an hour in hazard pay, paid sick leave, and workplace protections from this dangerous virus.’
‘These billionaire owners are like military generals sitting in protected bubbles sending their workers into the viral line of fire with insufficient shields,’ added Chuck Collins from the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of the report.
‘It is sordid and unseemly for some to reap such rewards when millions risk their lives, their long-term health, and their livelihoods.’
The rise in wealth for American billionaires comes as 11million people remain unemployed.
The unemployment rate remained at 11 percent last month, nearly twice the level it was in February before the pandemic and lockdowns hit.
Americans have been struggling to make rent and mortgage payments as businesses slowly reopened, opened only partially or were forced to permanently close.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau’s survey of American households, between October 28 and November 9, 28 percent of renters had either ‘no confidence’ or only ‘slight confidence’ of being able to make their next month’s payment.
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