Tens of millions of people in the United States have been left without jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and small business owners across the country are unsure if they will ever be able to open again. However, as usual, the experience of billionaires has been much different. In fact, billionaires have watched their collective net worth grow by $282 billion so far during the pandemic, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies.
The report noted that 49% of the world’s billionaires have seen their wealth increase over the past year. Jeff Bezos and anyone with stock in Amazon were among the biggest winners in the pandemic.
“The closure of hundreds of thousands of small businesses is giving Amazon the opportunity to increase its market share, strengthen its place in the supply chain, and gain more pricing power over consumers. Despite Amazon’s e-commerce dominance, Bezos has been unable to protect his workforce from Covid-19: Workers in 10 different Amazon warehouses tested positive for the disease in late March 3,” according to the report.
Among other billionaires who saw their wealth rise since the pandemic began are Elon Musk, Zoom founder Eric Yuan, and Google CEO Eric Smidt. Anyone with tech stocks has seen their portfolios soar in the past few months, especially Amazon.
Joshua Harris, Apollo Global Management co-founder and owner of multiple professional sports teams benefited even more directly from the pandemic, using his connection with Jared Kushner and the Trump administration to have one of his investment firms handle the bailout funds.
This is not the story for the ultra-wealthy as a whole, as a small number of billionaires who were not positioned to benefit from the crisis did lose a significant amount of their money. In its 34th annual list of global billionaires, which was published by Forbes on April 7, 2020, the number of billionaires dropped from 2,153 in 2019 to 2,095 in 2020.
Millionaires have seen huge losses as a result of the outbreak as well. At the start of the year, there was a record 11 million people in the country with over a million dollars in assets, according to a new study published by research firm Spectrem Group.
Even if some people with a lot of money saw their portfolios shrink in recent months, their concerns are nothing compared to the millions of people who are living paycheck to paycheck and unsure of where their next meal will be coming from.
Workers from some of the world’s largest corporations are planning a strike this week, to protest the pandemic working conditions, as well as lack of hazard pay and paid sick leave. The targets of the strike include Amazon, Walmart, and Target.
Whole Foods, Amazon, Target, and Instacart workers are striking on May 1st pic.twitter.com/nwnMhxxffy
— Michael Sainato (@msainat1) April 22, 2020
Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson