As millions of Americans lost jobs amid the raging coronavirus pandemic, billionaires’ wallets swelled to reach new heights, according to a new study.
Between April and July, billionaire wealth hit $10.2 trillion for the first time ever, according to a study released by the Swiss banking institution UBS and accounting firm PwC.
The previous peak for billionaire wealth was $8.9 trillion and that number was reached at the end of 2017. The total number of billionaires increased by one person since then, according to the data.
There are now 2,189 billionaires in the world.
Amid the pandemic, billionaire wealth rose across virtually every sector, though entrepreneurs in the technology, healthcare and industrial sectors pulled further ahead as those services took center stage in the world’s recovery from the outbreak.
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“We have seen before how a cohort of billionaire innovators and disruptors, active in tech, healthcare and industry, have contributed to reshaping the economy,” said Josef Stadler, head of global family office at UBS, and Marcel Tschanz, head of banking advisory at PwC Switzerland, in a joint statement.
“COVID-19 accelerated this trend dramatically: by demonstrating the value of the digital world they helped to create, they were able to decisively pull ahead of the pack as they increased their wealth while others’ fell.”
From 2018 through the first seven months of 2020, technology billionaires’ total wealth rose by 42.5% to $1.8 trillion as investors boosted tech shares, the study found. And healthcare billionaires’ total wealth increased by 50.3% to $658.6 billion, the research says.
Billionaires in entertainment, financial services and real estate sectors lagged with increases of 10% or less.
Researchers from UBS and PwC say the numbers capture financial information from 43 markets across the world and account for around 98% of global billionaire wealth.
The financial gains aren’t being shared by all. As the uber-wealthy have gotten richer as the study suggests, millions of Americans have suffered.
The U.S. lost 22 million jobs at the height of the pandemic over the summer and clawed back 11.4 million jobs, slightly more than half, since then. A majority of the job losses hit low-income Americans as millions of jobs in hospitality, restaurants and tourism were slashed.
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