The Number of Billionaires has Spiked by 30%

The total number of billionaires exploded over the course of the coronavirus pandemic — and they individually became extraordinarily wealthier during the last 12 months.

That’s according to a new report from Forbes, which does one of the most complete analyses each spring about the state of the billionaire class across the globe. Tracking the net worths of the wealthy is painstaking work that requires sifting through arcane filings; the end results are not perfect, but the estimates offered by Forbes represent one of the best stabs at covering the scale of income inequality in the world. And while it’s easy to lose track of the numbers or to see the figures as old news — “Billionaires continue to be billionaires” — the scale matters for anyone who wants to get a grasp on how much of a problem wealth inequality truly is.

The world is now home to 2,755 billionaires, a world record and a startling 30 percent increase from Forbes’s accounting last year of the world’s uber-rich. And 86 percent of those billionaires are richer than they were a year ago. The list does paint an exaggerated picture of some of the pandemic gains because it compares today’s net worths to Forbes’s last analysis in mid-March 2020, when the market had yet to recover from the early pandemic-inspired sell-off.

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