Forbes’ annual world’s billionaires list includes a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at the top for the fourth consecutive year, as the wealthiest saw huge gains in investments even as the global economy sagged during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s billionaires are worth a combined $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion last year, Forbes said, meaning overall the world’s billionaires are worth a combined $5.1 trillion more than in 2020.
The number of billionaires on the list of the world’s richest people grew by 660 people in 2020, Forbes said – a record increase – meaning there are now more billionaires of the planet than ever.
And overall, 86 percent of the people on the list are more wealthy than they were last year, Forbes said.
There were 493 newcomers on the list as well, meaning a new billionaire was minted once every 17 hours.
The ranks of the ultra-wealthy are expanding after a year in which the coronavirus pandemic upended world economies and threatened the livelihoods of people across the globe.
At No. 1, Amazon’s Bezos clocked in at a staggering $177B, cementing his spot as the wealthiest billionaire on the list.
Elon Musk, the boss of electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, zoomed into the No. 2 spot with $151 billion. Tesla stock is up more than 560 percent over the past year, helping put a motor under Musk’s worth.
For comparison, the median net worth in the U.S. is $121,411, according to Federal Reserve data. Median means half the country is worth more and half is worth less.
Even the ‘top one percent’ that is oftentimes touted as the country’s elite had an average household net worth of just over $11 million in 2020 – a far cry from the billionaire’s list.
Bezos’ wealth grew by $63B as Amazon capitaized on the surge in demand for online shopping during the pandemic, while Musk’s wealth jumped a staggering $125.5B, taking him from 31st place last year to second in 2021.
And the richest cities are tilting toward China: Five of the top 10 richest cities in the world are within China, if counting Hong Kong, which comes in at No. 3.
Beijing takes the top crown for city with the most billionaires at 100, while New York comes in at No. 2 – just shy of the top with 99.
Tech billionaires, meanwhile, increasingly dominate the list, Forbes says: They’re worth a combined $2.5 trillion on the list, up about 80 percent from the $1.4 trillion they logged in at last year.
And 365 of the billionaires had fortunes made in technology, Forbes said – up from 241 last year.
The tech industry is the second-biggest contributor to the list, coming just under finance and investments, which has 371.
‘The very, very rich got very, very richer,’ said Forbes’ Chief Content Officer Randall Lane, in an interview with Reuters Video News.
Of the 660 who were added to the list this year, 493 were brand new to the list. (Some had fallen off and re-gained their status.)
The increase of 493 brand new billionaires means one was minted roughly every 17 hours, according to Forbes calculations.
The U.S. has the most people on the list, with 724. China has 698 when including Macao and Hong Kong.