While nearly one in six Americans have lost their jobs since mid-March and 4.4 million have filed for unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic, American billionaires are becoming wealthier by the day. According to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies, American billionaires added a staggering total of $282billion to their combined wealth between March 18th and April 10th.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos may be the most notable example of a billionaire who has seen a sharp increase to his profits since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. The 56-year-old has added $25 billion to his own wealth since January 1st, 2020. Meanwhile, as his net worth continues to grow, Amazon employees are protesting their dismal working conditions. Employees in at least ten different Amazon factories having tested positive for coronavirus as of late March.
Not to mention Bezos ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos, who owns a four percent stake in Amazon. She saw an $8.6 billion increase in her net worth as of April 15th.
Tesla founder Elon Musk initially referred to the coronavirus pandemic as “dumb” on Twitter. Now, the mogul has stepped up to assist in the crisis, meeting the demands for medical equipment in areas with shortages. Amidst his charitable efforts, he has also managed to bring in an extra $5billion since the beginning of the year.
Eric Yuan and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer have also seen a financial boom as work-from-home measures are in place, and the use of videoconferencing is becoming the norm. Yuan has seen a $2.58 billion increase in his net worth, while Ballmer, who also owns the Los Angeles Clippers, has seen a $2.2billion increase.
To compile this report, the Institute referenced Forbes’ annual “World’s Billionaires List” and used the publication’s daily trackers to follow the changes of the extremely wealthy group, who they are calling the “pandemic profiteers.”
“We started to immediately look at it and realize, even three weeks later, the story was changing quickly,’ Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, revealed to Fast Company. “Their story was, ‘Hey, the pandemic is really affecting even the billionaires; their wealth is down from last year globally and in terms of the U.S.’ What we found was, wait three weeks, and they’ve now surpassed last year’s collective wealth, and now they’re surging to new heights.”
The report also showed that while the wealthy could bounce back in as little as 30 months from financial hardship, many middle-class Americans will not be able to recover from the current financial ruins as quickly, especially considering that many are entering the pandemic still struggling to overcome the 2008 crash.