A new report from research firm Wealth-X has revealed that the global COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the growth of social inequalities and has witnessed an unprecedented build-up of wealth among the most privileged segments of society. For the first time in human history, the world had more than 3,000 billionaires in 2020.
This represents a 13.4% increase in the number of billionaires since 2019, currently totaling 3,204 people, with a median wealth of $ 1.9 billion. The collective wealth of billionaires reached $ 10 trillion, an increase of 5.7% from 2019.
“Taken as a whole, the global pandemic has brought a boon to the wealth of billionaires, spurred by the flood of monetary stimulus and rising profits in key sectors that have created a new wave of younger, self-made billionaires. “, says the report.
The wealth of billionaires has grown steadily since 1990, but a third of those wealth gains took place during the pandemic. The wealth of American billionaires has grown nineteen-fold over the past 31 years, from $ 240 billion adjusted for inflation in 1990 to $ 4.7 trillion in 2021.
The parasitic growth of wealth has been most pronounced in the United States, the center of global capitalism. Billionaire ranks across North America are up 17.5% from a year ago. In fact, North America’s 980 billionaires make up 30.6% of the world’s billionaires.
The United States was the first billionaire country in 2020. According to a report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality (IPS), American billionaires have seen their collective wealth increase by 62 %, or about $ 1.8 billion. , since March 18, 2020. After North America, Asia has seen its number increase by 16.5%, for a grand total of 883. Asian billionaires have seen their collective net worth reach $ 2.6 trillion , an increase of 7.5%.
The good fortune of this tiny layer of the world’s population over the past 18 months is all the more appalling when contrasted with the growing misery and impoverishment of billions of workers around the world. While a few thousand billionaires amassed huge sums of money, workers around the world lost $ 3.7 trillion in income during the pandemic, according to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The report estimated an 8.8% annual drop in working hours globally from 2019 to 2020, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. This is about four times the loss recorded during the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
The lost working hours were due to massive reductions in working hours and unprecedented levels of job losses, affecting some 114 million people and their families. Significantly, 71% of these job losses are due to ‘inactivity’, which means that at least 81 million people worldwide have left the labor market because they could not find a job. job.
Women have been hit harder by the pandemic than men. Overall, job losses for women amount to 5 percent, compared to 3.9 percent for men. Women were much more likely than men to leave the workforce, most often because of childcare issues. Young workers have also been devastated. Employment fell 8.7% for workers aged 15 to 24, compared to 3.7% for adults. Generation Z, the oldest of which is 23, has become the most unemployed generation and is on the way to experiencing the same financial difficulties as Generation Y.
In the United States alone, the official poverty rate increased 1.0% from 2019 to 2020, according to the US Census Bureau. The poverty rate rose to 11.4 percent, marking the first increase in the official poverty rate after five consecutive years of decline. In 2020, 37.2 million people lived in poverty, about 3.3 million more than in 2019.
At the same time, the median household income in 2020 fell 2.9% from the previous year. This is the first statistically significant drop in median household income since 2011.
More than 86 million Americans have lost their jobs, nearly 38 million have fallen ill with the virus and more than 675,000 have died from it. Between 2019 and 2020, the median real earnings of all workers fell 1.2%. The total number of people reporting earnings fell by about 3 million, while the number of full-time, full-year workers fell by about 13.7 million.
The main obstacle to solving the world’s burning social issues, whether it is the devastating impact of COVID-19 or the widespread growth of poverty, are the private interests of the capitalist ruling class. Every action these vultures have taken in response to the pandemic has been motivated by the effort to protect the wealth and privileges of the few. To save lives and prevent further disaster, workers must fight for a policy based on the interests of the working class, the vast majority of society.