U.S. Billionaires' Net Worth Jumps Nearly One-Third as Working Families Suffer

The pockets of American billionaires got significantly deeper since the start of the pandemic as working families continued to suffer from the economic effects of the outbreak.

Despite the U.S. economy reeling from an unprecedented unemployment crisis, the collective wealth of the nation's billionaires jumped by $931 billion, almost a third, since March, according to a new report.

The total net worth of America's 644 billionaires climbed from $2.95 trillion on March 18 to $3.88 trillion on October 13, Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) found.

This represented a 31.6 percent rise based on Forbes billionaires data.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, 56, led the top 15 billionaires leaderboard with a net worth of $203.1 billion as of October 13. He was followed by Microsoft's Bill Gates, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla's Elon Musk.

Bezos owns around 11 percent of Amazon's stock, accounting for the majority of his wealth. The company's valuation now sits at about $1.61 trillion.

As the coronavirus ripped through Wall Street this year, ending a record bull market run, technology giants have emerged stronger than ever, lining the pockets of their owners and investors.

The wealth of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk skyrocketed 277 percent, or $68.2 billion, from March to October to $92.8 billion as shares increased more than five-fold since the start of the year.

In July, Tesla became the world's most valuable car manufacturer after the electric vehicle company's market value surpassed Toyota's for the first time. It is the best performing Nasdaq stock this year.

Jeff Bezos' wealth jumped 80 percent, or $90.1 billion, higher during the period, while Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg saw a 20 percent and 85 percent rise respectively.

In contrast, as 98,000 businesses permanently closed across the country, almost 62 million Americans lost work between March 21 and September 19, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some 25 million people were still collecting unemployment benefits on September 19.

The collective work income of rank-and-file private sector employees also fell by 3.5 percent from mid-March to mid-September, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.

In addition to this, a total of 12 million citizens lost employer-sponsored health insurance during the pandemic, while 22 million adults reported not having enough food in the last week, according to Household Pulse Survey data collected September 16-28, including 14 million with children in the household.

Jeff Bezos Amazon
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos led the top 15 billionaire’s leaderboard with a net worth of $203.1bn as at October 13. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images