After a roaring 2021, the 400 richest people in the U.S.—along with many Americans—have been hit by rising inflation and falling markets. As a group, this year’s Forbes 400 is $500 billion poorer than they were a year ago. Their total net worth stands at $4 trillion, down 11% from last year.
The minimum net worth required to make the list also fell, by $200 million, to $2.7 billion. It’s the first time since the Great Recession that America’s ultrawealthy aren’t richer than the year before. Forbes calculated net worth using stock prices from September 2, 2022 [Chase Peterson-Withorn, “The 2022 Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans: Facts and Figures,” Forbes, 2022.09.27].
As we know from our discussion of regressive taxes, a dollar lost doesn’t have as big of an impact on a rich person as it does on a poor person. The average Forbes 400 member lost a billion dollars last year but still has $10 billion left. Unlike working people who lose 11% of their wealth, the Forbes 400 members who just lost a billion dollars can still walk into any store and buy anything they want.
Falling stock values helped T. Denny Sanford fall right off the Forbes 400 list. The Argus Leader notes that, with at least $500 million in donations on top of stock shrinkage, the richest South Dakotan’s wealth dwindled from $3.4 billion to $2 billion, dropping Sanford from 340th on last year’s Forbes count to 1,407th currently.
With Sanford’s decline, South Dakota no longer has anyone among the richest 400 Americans. Minnesota and North Dakota don’t have any top 400 billionaires, either; Wyoming has 3; Montana 2; Iowa and Nebraska, 1 each.
You’d think South Dakota’s self-evident freedom and “strongest economy in the nation” would induce those sensible capitalists to move to the Mount Rushmore state to maximize their wealth. Those rich folks have all the money they need (and #214 on the list, U-Haul heir/VP Mark Shoen, certainly has the moving trucks) to move wherever they want. But none are moving to South Dakota. Over 40% of them prefer to live in the Democratic states of California and New York.
- California: 80
- New York: 65
- Florida: 43
- Texas: 43
- Illinois: 17
- Georgia: 10
But hey: factor out the low-income skew of big prisons, and South Dakota has six of the twenty counties with the lowest per capita income and four of the twenty counties with the lowest median household income in America.