(Benzinga) – The wealth of billionaires in the United States increased by nearly a trillion dollars since mid-March, even as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the country and the world, according to inequality.org, a web portal that focuses on the wealth gap.
What Happened: U.S. Billionaire wealth stood at $2.947 trillion on March 18 and rose by $970 billion to $3.917 trillion by Sept. 3, said Inequality.org.
The portal says the 32.9% increase in wealth of the super-rich happened in 24 weeks amid a backdrop of over 30 million people rendered jobless and 158,000 people dying due to the pandemic.
Top five billionaires including Amazon.com, Inc AMZN CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft Corporation AMZN co-founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) Chairman Warren Buffett, and Oracle Corporation ORCL Chairman Larry Ellison grew their wealth by 26% to $101.7 billion between March 18 to June 17, as per the portal.
March 18 is the approximate date on which pandemic-induced shutdowns began and June 17 is the day when Forbes released data for its billionaire’s list, as per inequality.org.
Bezos, who reportedly was worth $113 billion, increased his wealth by 38.7% to $43.8 billion in the period, while Zuckerberg gained $32.1 billion to be worth $86.8 billion, a gain of 58.6%.
Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk increased his wealth by 70% in the three-months period the portal tracked and gained $17.2 billion to be worth $41.8 billion.
Why It Matters: Calls are increasing for the super-wealthy to be held accountable for allegedly profiteering from the pandemic. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the “Make Billionaires Pay Act,” which if passed would levy a 60% tax on the wealth of 467 billionaires whose wealth rose since March 18, as per Inequality.org.
“An emergency wealth tax on billionaires is what the body politic requires,” said Chuck Collins, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies.
In July, Bezos broke the record for a single-day jump in net worth gaining $13 billion to his worth in a single day.
Mackenzie Bezos, the former wife of the Amazon CEO, also added $4.6 billion to her wealth on the same day.
Photo Courtesy: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr.