Billionaires are getting even richer during COVID-19

Many corporate titans have profited handsomely from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even while the death count rises, millions of American families struggle to make ends meet, and main street businesses shutter, some of the biggest companies in our country have recorded record profits. Corporate windfalls from this catastrophe have further concentrated wealth in a few hands as 647 billionaires in the United States saw their personal fortunes grow by nearly $1 trillion between the start of the pandemic and mid-November.

That kind of haul is hard for most of us to wrap our minds around What would that kind of wealth mean for people whose lives have been upended by COVID-19? The $960 billion in new wealth for America’s billionaires would be enough to:

  • Give every adult and child in the United States a nearly $3,000 stimulus check or to pay for a year of $600 supplementary unemployment insurance payments for over 30 million people,
  • Cover the average rent on a two-bedroom apartment for every rental household in North Carolina for 64 years,
  • Keep over 85 million families of four fed for a year, or
  • Put almost 10 million students through UNC Chapel Hill.

All told, less than 700 people profited enough in a few months to sustain a family of four in North Carolina for over 20 million years. (If you’re wondering, humans and the rest of the Great Apes only evolved around 6-8 million years ago). As people struggle to put food on the table, stay in their homes, keep the lights on, and stay warm through the winter, there’s no excuse for a handful of billionaires to make off with almost a trillion dollars. It shows what’s broken in our country and why we need a better kind of recovery.

Patrick McHugh is the Research Manager for the N.C. Budget & Tax Center.

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