Harvard University reported that its endowment grew by more than $11.3 billion over the last year as nearly 20% of U.S. households reported losing their entire savings during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent poll.
Harvard’s endowment, driven by a nearly 34% return on its investment, ballooned to more than $53 billion, the university’s annual financial report published Thursday showed. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of households earning less than $50,000 lost all their savings, according to a Tuesday poll conducted by Harvard’s school of public health, NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"We always knew there was going to be an uneven recovery," Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Vice President Avenel Joseph said, according to Bloomberg. "The safety net always had holes, and the pandemic ripped those holes even wider."
N.P. "Narv" Narvekar, the CEO of Harvard Management Company, which manages the endowment, said in the university's report: "Public and private markets both continued their strong performance, which allowed the endowment to not only increase its distribution to the university, but also continue to grow during this critical time when pandemic-related financial pressures challenge all of higher education."
Harvard, which ended its fiscal year with a $283 million operating surplus, used $2 billion from the endowment to fund its budget, according to the report.
The university’s 34% return on investment marks a significant gain from years prior. 2018 saw the second highest return over the past five years at 10%, according to the school's financial reports.
Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Ron Klain has been criticized for endorsing a Harvard professor’s tweet that said inflation and other economic issues the nation faces are "high class problems."
"Most of the economic problems we're facing (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high class problems," Jason Furman tweeted. "We wouldn't have had them if the unemployment rate was still 10 percent. We would instead have had a much worse problem."
Klain retweeted Furman and added "This" with hand emojis pointing toward the professor’s tweet.
The consumer price index rose 5.4% year over year, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.