USA billionaires record a surge in wealth during COVID-19, including newcomer Kanye West.

A new report by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) shows that American billionaires’ wealth increased by $434 billion since the COVID-19 pandemic, led by technology investors.

The study found that between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown and May 19, the total net worth of the top five U.S. billionaires – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison—saw their wealth grow by a total of $75.5bn.

The report further noted that in March there were 614 billionaires on the Forbes list, and 630 two months later, including newcomer Kanye West at $1.3bn.

Using data for Forbes Rich list and real-time estimates, Bezos is now worth $147.6bn from the $113bn he was valued at on March 18.

Gates’ wealth has jumped from $98bn to $106bn, while Zuckerberg’s bounty has increased from $54.7bn to $80bn.

Some reports have already suggested that Bezos is on course to be the first trillion dollar billionaire in the world in a space of just 6 years.

“The surge in billionaire wealth during a global pandemic underscores the grotesque nature of unequal sacrifice,” said Chuck Collins, director of the IPS Program on Inequality.

“While millions risk their lives and livelihoods as first responders and front line workers, these billionaires benefit from an economy and tax system that is wired to funnel wealth to the top.”

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