The Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies have tracked the wealth growth of American billionaires since the start of the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic – from March 2020 to March 2021. The report by these two institutions shows that billionaire wealth grew significantly during the pandemic.
Combined billionaire wealth increased more than $1.3 trillion since the lockdown began. This is over 45%. As billionaires gained wealth, over 80 million Americans lost work between March 2020 to February 2021. Eighteen million Americans were collecting unemployment. The report further concludes that the wealth of the combined 15 billionaires had a wealth increase of over 82%.
Billionaires with the top percentage of increase in wealth included: Elon Musk (558.9% wealth increase); Jeff Bezos (57.6% wealth increase); Mark Zuckerberg (85.9% wealth increase); Daniel Gilbert (641.5% wealth increase).
In contrast to the intense wealth increase for billionaires, global workers wealth decreased by $3.7 trillion, according to the International Labour Organization.
In addition to the income inequality increasing, it is necessary to also understand the wealth gap as a global issue. Intersectionality within a social justice framework means understanding the ways in which domestic issues within the US affect the wider world. As a result of the increasing wealth gap not only between upper and lower classes, but also between high-income and low-income nations. People in high-income countries have received 56% of all vaccine doses, whereas those from lower-income countries have received only 0.1% of vaccine doses.
Furthermore, it is necessary to understand how inequality and income inequality affects Black Americans, Latinx Americans, and Indigenous peoples. During the initial lockdown in March of 2020, Black and Latinx workers were more likely to lose their jobs than white Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January of 2021, the unemployment rate persisted at higher levels for Black Americans than white workers, many of whom were able to find jobs after initial unemployment.
To conclude is the following quote from Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, ““The pandemic has created an astonishing rise in wealth for the nation’s billionaires while tens of millions of Americans fell further behind..Billionaires are living in a different world from the rest of us. It’s time we bring them down to earth and make them pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us so we can create an economy that works for everyone.”
The report from the Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies can be found here.