Statistics released May 28 by the U.S. Department of Labor show that with 2.1 million new unemployment claims filed last week, a staggering 40.7 million Americans have lost their jobs over just the past 10 weeks as mass layoffs induced by the coronavirus pandemic continue.
During that same 10-week period, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the combined net worth of America's billionaires soared by nearly half a trillion dollars, bringing their total wealth to $3.4 trillion.
"Billionaire wealth is surging at the same time that millions face suffering, hardship, and loss of life," IPS, a progressive think tank, said, noting that more than 100,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States. "This is a grotesque indicator of the deep inequalities in U.S. society."
IPS, which has been publishing weekly updates on billionaire "pandemic profiteering," found that the combined net worth of U.S. billionaires grew by $485 billion between March 18 and May 28, an increase of 16.5 percent.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — the richest man in the world — and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw their combined wealth soar by $63 billion over the last 10 weeks.
Meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported, a $2-an-hour hazard pay increase for Amazon warehouse workers is set to expire at the end of the day Sunday.IPS found that there are currently 16 more billionaires than there were in mid-March, when many U.S. states began locking down their economies as COVID-19 spread rapidly across the country.
"This isn't just unsustainable," IPS tweeted of the surge in billionaire wealth. "It's unconscionable."