- The 12 richest Americans are now worth more than $1 trillion, according to an analysis from the Institute for Policy Studies.
- During the pandemic, their combined wealth has increased by $283 billion, a jump of nearly 40%, according to the report.
- Elon Musk saw the biggest gains, tripling his personal fortune as Tesla's stock has surged this year.
- The list is dominated by other titans of the tech industry including Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google's cofounders.
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America's richest individuals are getting richer and showing no signs of slowing down during the pandemic.
The trend is most prominent among the dozen wealthiest Americans, whose collective net worth passed $1 trillion last week, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Policy Studies using data from Forbes and Bloomberg's billionaire trackers.
Since March 18, around the time the pandemic first started wreaking havoc on the US economy, the country's top 12 wealthiest people have seen their personal fortunes skyrocket alongside COVID-19 cases, raking in an additional $283 billion - an increase of nearly 40% - the IPS report found.
Wealth and income inequality in the US had already hit record highs before the pandemic. But in a sign that economic fallout from the coronavirus has further concentrated wealth at the top, data from the US Federal Reserve shows that the top 1% of Americans actually saw their share of overall wealth in the US decrease from 29.3% to 27.8% during the first quarter of 2020, even as those at the very top saw massive gains.
In particular, those gains have gone to the executives and founders of the largest US tech companies, which surged past Wall Street expectations last quarter despite declining revenues. Of the 12 wealthiest Americans included in IPS's analysis, eight hail from the tech industry.
They include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (with a net increase since March of $76.5 billion), Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates ($16.1 billion), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($40.8 billion), Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk ($48.5 billion), former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ($18.8 billion), Oracle founder Larry Ellison ($11.9 billion), and Google cofounders Larry Page ($16.5 billion) and Sergey Brin ($16.5 billion).
While Bezos has been the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic in terms of largest net worth increase, Musk saw the highest percentage gains with a 228% boost, taking his personal fortune from $24.6 billion pre-pandemic to $73.1 billion as of August 13, according to IPS.
Musk's wealth climbed another $8 billion Monday as Tesla stock soared to an all-time high, making him the fourth wealthiest person in the world.
Others on IPS' list included Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett ($13.1 billion increase), and Walmart heirs Alice Walton ($8.2 billion), Jim Walton ($7.7 billion), and Rob Walton ($7.9 billion).