Where Do the Ultra-Wealthy Live in America?

Although someone with $10 million dollars might seem very wealthy, only those with $30 million or more in investable assets are categorized as ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs). According to the 2019 World Ultra Wealth Report, the number of UHNWIs has grown to 265,490, and together they own over $32.3 trillion. Half of these extremely wealthy people reside in North America, and the vast majority call the United States home.

The United States’ UHNW population grew by 0.8% overall in 2018, a much lower rate than the 9.5% growth seen in 2017. The population's net worth fell by 1.7% in 2018, which was surprising considered the 13% increase in net worth in 2017. The lower growth rates are thought to be the result of a late slump in investor sentiment and global equity markets in 2018. 

However, the 2019 World Ultra Wealth Report predicts that the UHNW population will reach 353,550 with a total combined wealth of $43 trillion by 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • People with $30 million or more in investable assets are considered to be ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals.
  • There are 265,490 such people in the world who together own over $32.3 trillion; half of them live in North America.
  • New York has the highest UHNW population followed by Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC.

Understanding the Ultra-wealthy

Unsurprisingly, America's wealthiest are primarily concentrated in big cities or major metropolitan areas. Only four of the 50 states – California, Texas, Florida, and Missouri – have more than one city with substantial UHNW populations.

New York may lag behind California in terms of its state ranking but New York City boasts the largest UHNW population of any city in the United States – as well as the world – with 8,980 UHNW individuals as of 2018, according to the latest data from Statista.com.

Here are the five U.S. cities with the most UHNW individuals:

  1. New York City: 8,980
  2. Los Angeles: 5,295
  3. Chicago: 3,350
  4. San Francisco: 2,925
  5. Washington, D.C.: 2,785

States With the Wealthiest Americans

While California can lay claim to having the most UHNW individuals, it can't do the same for having the wealthiest individuals. In fact, according to the 2019 Forbes 400 list, the two wealthiest U.S. citizens live in Washington State: Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is $114 billion, and Bill Gates, with $106 billion. Number three on the list is Warren Buffet in Nebraska with $80.8 billion. California claims spots four, five and six with Mark Zuckerberg ($69.6 billion), Larry Ellison ($65 billion) and Larry Page ($55.5 billion).

U.S. Billionaires

The United States was home to 607 billionaires in 2019, according to Forbes. Billionaire families in the United States have earned their fortunes in a variety of ways, including owning wineries, oil companies, grocery store chains, banks, investment firms, alcoholic beverage companies, chemical manufacturers, and candy empires.

What do these extremely wealthy people do with their fortunes? Many of them support causes that are meaningful to them or start their own charities. For example, the Mars family, which, according to Business Insider is worth over $90 billion, started the Mars Foundation, which supports environmental, educational, and health-related causes.