Anti-poverty group Oxfam publishes a report citing how steep the income inequality has been at the time of the pandemic, with billionaires’ combined wealth could save the world from falling into poverty.
According to the report, the collective wealth of billionaires in the United States has grown by $1.1 trillion over the past ten months. The wealth of America’s top 600 billionaires even climbed to $4.1 trillion, representing a 38.6 percent increase since the data from March 2020.
This means, on average, billionaires’ fortunes increased by roughly 58.7 percent, including individuals such as Elon Musk—up for more than 500 percent. The number of billionaires rose too, now a total of 660 from 614 last year.
Musk’s wealth grew by $155 billion, as Tesla’s market valuation sizzles. This increase is aggressive while leaving behind more people down the poverty line. With more and more businesses closing, people are losing jobs mainly due to the pandemic.
The $4.1 trillion combined wealth comprises two thirds more than the amount held by the bottom 50 percent of the United States’ population. In fact, for the final six months of 2020, more than eight million Americans fell into the poverty line.
Without the federal government’s stimulus checks, the poverty line in the first few months could have increased. However, in the second half of the year, the poverty rate rose to 2.4 percent—double the largest annual poverty increase since the 1960s.
“We think that this is an opportunity to do something radical about building back fairer to think about wealth taxes, to think about corporation taxes, to think about increasing the basic social floor for every citizen,” said Oxfam chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah.
Meanwhile, some billionaires are donating money to help the poorest of the population, with Microsoft founder Bill Gates leading with $1.75 billion for COVID response, and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey funding $1 billion for relief efforts.
As of June 2020, Amazon’s founder and richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos only donated $125 million of his wealth for the coronavirus relief.