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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Wealth of US Billionaires Hits $5.5 Trillion—Up 88% Since Pandemic Hit

The obscenely rich


Four years ago, the United States entered the Covid-19 pandemic. Forbes published its 34th annual billionaire survey shortly after with data keyed to March 18, 2020. On that day, the United States had 614 billionaires who owned a combined wealth of $2.947 trillion.

Four years later, on March 18, 2024, the country has 737 billionaires with a combined wealth of $5.529 trillion, an 87.6 percent increase of $2.58 trillion, according to Institute for Policy Studies calculations of ForbeReal Time Billionaire Data. (Thank you, Forbes!)

The last four years have been great for particular billionaires:

On March 18, 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had wealth valued just under $25 billion. By May 2022, his wealth had surged to $255 billion. As of March 18, 2024, Musk is at $188.5 billion, more than a seven-fold increase in four years.

Over four years, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth increase from $113 billion to 192.8 billion, even after paying out tens of billions in a divorce settlement and donating tens of billions to charity.

Three Walton family members — Jim, Alice, and Rob — are the principal heirs to the Walmart fortune. They saw their combined assets rise from $161.1 billion to $229.6 billion.

In 2020, only one billionaire — Jeff Bezos — had $100 billion or more. Today, the entire top ten are centi-billionaires, bringing their collective wealth to a staggering $1.4 trillion.

The only billionaire on the 2020 top 15 wealthiest Americans list to see their wealth decline in four years was MacKenzie Scott. Four years ago, on March 18, 2020, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos had a net worth of $36 billion. It has declined to $35.4 billion due to her aggressive giving to charity. 

For more details on how America’s billionaires have fared since the onset of the pandemic, check out our updates page.

CHUCK COLLINS is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he co-edits  His near future novel "Altar to An Erupting Sun” explores one community’s response to climate disruption. He is author of numerous books and reports on inequality and the racial wealth divide, including “The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions,” “Born on Third Base,” and, with Bill Gates Sr., of “Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why American Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes.”  See more of his writing at 

OMAR OCAMPO is a researcher for the Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a B.A. in Political Science and holds a Masters in International Relations from the American University in Cairo. His thesis focused on the politics of international oil and humanitarian intervention in Libya.