FACT CHECK: Joe Biden Claims U.S. Went From 746 Billionaires To 1,000 During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

President Joe Biden claimed during a July 29 campaign reception in Freeport, Maine that the U.S. went from 746 billionaires to 1,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Verdict: Unsubstantiated

The U.S. had 735 billionaires in 2022, according to Forbes. Data from Altrata showed that the U.S. had 975 billionaires in 2022.

Fact Check:

Biden visited Maine to highlight his economic record and manufacturing jobs in the state, according to WMTW. He later attended a private fundraising reception, according to the outlet, with the White House publishing a transcript of his remarks at the function.

In his remarks, Biden said, “We went from having 746 billionaires in America before the pandemic to a thousand.”

The number, though, is in dispute. Forbes states that there were 609 billionaires in the U.S. in 2019. This number jumped to 735 in 2022, a number that carried over to 2023.

“America still leads the world, with 735 billionaires worth a collective $4.7 trillion, including Elon Musk, who tops the World’s Billionaires list for the first time. China (including Macau and Hong Kong) remains number two, with 607 billionaires worth a collective $2.3 trillion,” Forbes wrote in 2022.

The Visual Capitalist came up with a different number using data from Wealth-X, a company owned by research firm Altrata. The website states that there were 975 billionaires in the U.S., worth a collective $4.45 trillion.

The X-Wealth Billionaire Census reported that there were 955 billionaires in the U.S. as of May 2023. Amanda Cifone, a representative from Altrata, told Check Your Fact that “the figure of 975 is accurate for the year 2021 (which dropped to 955 in 2022).”

In terms of methodology, we can’t speak on behalf of Forbes, but: We believe we’ve identified more than 95% of the current billionaires in our Wealth-X database. A significant portion of billionaire wealth gets updated regularly (public holdings and values of stakes in private businesses). Our methodology accounts for other factors such as the devaluation of assets, entries (or exits) by new members, etc,” Cifone said. 

Cifone added that there were 788 U.S. billionaires in 2019. (RELATED: Pentagon Claims Last Time U.S. Used Cluster Munitions Was In 2003)

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
Follow Elias on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].