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Coronavirus

Despite the COVID-19 economic crunch, billionaire wealth rocketed during 2020: Report

Published: Updated:

The COVID-19 pandemic may have plunged the global economy into one of the worst recessions in a lifetime, but the crisis benefitted the rich, creating a boom for billionaires and helping more people join the rank of the super-wealthy.

For the first time, the world has more than 3,000 billionaires, according to a new report.

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The report, from research firm Wealth-X, said that reflects a 13.4 percent increase since 2019.

Their total wealth swelled to $10 trillion - a 5.7 percent increase in net worth.

“Viewed in aggregate, the global pandemic delivered a windfall to billionaire wealth, boosted by the flood of monetary stimulus and swelling profits in key sectors that coined a new wave of younger, self-made billionaires,” the report said.

However, not all billionaires faired positively.

Those who made their fortunes in pandemic-stricken industries like travel and entertainment fared less well than those in sectors like technology.

North America cemented its status as “the world’s leading billionaire region in 2020,” with the numbers there growing by 17.5 percent from the year prior.

In fact, North America’s 980 billionaires account for 30.6 percent of the world’s billionaires. The US was the top billionaire country in 2020.

When it came to growing the ranks of billionaires, Asia followed close behind North America, with the number of billionaires growing by 16.5 percent, for a grand total of of 883. Asia’s billionaires saw their collective net worths growth to $2.6 trillion - a 7.5 percent increase.

The report on the super wealthy came as other reports show that workers around the world lost $3.7 trillion in earnings during the pandemic, according to a report from the International labor Organization (ILO).

In the US alone, poverty ticked up by 1 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to the US Census Bureau, and median household income dropped by 2.9 percent.

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The Wealth-X report attributes the ongoing and ever-growing wealth divide as one contributing factor in increasing unrest across the world.

“As the global economy gradually emerges from the crisis, the issue of widening inequality may well spur more concerted redistributive policy efforts in areas such as tax and regulation,” the report said.

Read more:

Biggest billionaires: The top 10 richest people in the world

COVID-19 vaccines have spawned nine new billionaires: Campaign group

Coronavirus: US loses 500,000 millionaires in record time