The Number of Millionaires Continues to Increase

Who wants to be a millionaire? Practically everybody in the United States, it seems. A 2021 report finds that the number of millionaires in the U.S. has reached nearly 22 million. The number of multimillionaires has also increased, with a 24% gain in the numbers of the richest of the rich.

There are just over 21,951,000 millionaires in the U.S., according to the latest Global Wealth Report from the Credit Suisse Research Institute. The U.S. had the greatest year-over-year growth of any nation in the number of millionaires within its borders, according to the report. Worldwide, the number of millionaires has increased to 56.1 million, marking a significant rise from the year before when there were only 50.8 million millionaires.

The gainers are, quite literally, the 1%. The report finds, for the first time, a little more than 1% of the adults in the U.S. are worth at least $1 million.

  • There are 21,951,000 millionaires in the U.S., according to the 2021 Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse.
  • The number of millionaires increased substantially between 2020 and 2021.
  • Much of the new wealth was gained in the last half of 2020, as the stock markets rose and housing prices soared.
  • The number of "ultra-high net worth individuals," the wealthiest category, grew by 24%.
  • For the first time, more than 1% of Americans are millionaires.
  • The average American has a net worth of $79,952.

The Richest and the Rest

Overall, the growth in wealth at the top has defied expectations of the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the new gains can be attributed to the rises in stock prices and in real estate valuations, particularly in the second half of 2020.

The wealth of the average adult in the U.S. rose 6% to a record high of $79,952, according to the Credit Suisse report.

However, "average" wealth can be a deceptive number. About $5 trillion is now in the hands of just 745 American billionaires, compared with about $3 trillion that is shared among the bottom half of American households. The total net worth of American billionaires rose about 70% during the pandemic.

Global Wealth

The global numbers can be most easily expressed with a pyramid shape. About 55% of adults worldwide have less than $10,000 in assets. Another 32.8% have $10,000 to $100,000 in assets. About 11.1% have $100,000 to $1 million, and that number is growing fast due to the emergence of a solid middle class in China and other developing nations.

The 1% sits at the top, showing the highest annual growth in their numbers since 2003, at 45.8%.

Tesla founder Elon Musk's personal wealth grew 751% in the 19 months from mid-March 2020 to mid-October 2021. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gained 70.1%.

Sources of Millionaire Wealth

Becoming a millionaire may be easier than you think. It doesn't take rich parents to reach those top tax brackets; the majority of millionaires say that they built up their fortunes themselves. A 2021 survey of U.S. millionaires by Ramsey Solutions found that only 3% inherited more than a million dollars from their parents, and 79% had no inheritance at all.

You also don't need an Ivy-League education. The same survey found that nearly two-thirds of American millionaires (62%) went to public or state schools, and 80% built their wealth by saving and investing in a company 401(k) plan.

California had the most millionaire households as of 2020, followed by Texas, New York, and Florida. The states with the fewest millionaires were Wyoming, Vermont, and South Dakota.

The Bottom Line

Economists are still grappling to measure the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on personal wealth and on the greater economy. The immediate results in the early days of the pandemic were as expected: A drop in gross domestic product (GDP), slower consumer spending, and higher unemployment.

But even as the pandemic lingered, the stock markets and the real estate prices came roaring back, particularly in the last half of 2020. Billionaires achieved vast gains, mostly as the companies they owned soared in market value. The list of millionaires grew longer as real estate values soared. Meanwhile, those who worked service jobs, or could not work remotely, suffered from economic hardships.

What Is the Number of Millionaires in the U.S.?

There are 21,951,000 millionaires in the U.S. as of the end of 2020, according to the latest Global Wealth Report from the Credit Suisse Research Institute. This number increased sharply during the historic worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a soaring stock market and a boom in the housing market.

What Is the Number of Multimillionaires in the U.S.?

A total of 101,240 individuals in the U.S. were ultra-high net worth by the end of 2020, an increase of 8.4% over the previous year, according to a report by Wealth-X, a financial information company. They account for about one-third of all of the world's ultra-wealthy.

That report set the bar at $30 million, but the actual definition of "ultra-high net worth" varies. Credit Suisse sets the bar higher, at $50 million. By this definition, the number of ultra-wealthy individuals is about 215,030.

How Many Billionaires Are There in the U.S.?

The U.S. has 724 billionaires, according to the Forbes World's Billionaires List for 2021. That's more than anywhere else in the world. Worldwide, there were 2,755 billionaires, an increase of 660 in just one year.

How Many Millionaires Are There in the World?

Altogether, about 56.1 million people around the world are millionaires, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. That's a significant rise from a year before, when there were only 50.8 million millionaires.

Which Countries Have the Most Millionaires?

In raw numbers, the U.S. leads the world for its number of millionaires. But Switzerland boasts the lead in millionaires per capita. Fully 14.9% of Switzerland's population has a net worth of $1 million or more. Australia is in second place, at 9.4% of the population. In third place is the U.S. in a tie with Luxembourg at 8.8%.

Article Sources
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  7. Credit Suisse Research Institute. "Global Wealth Report 2021." Page 37.

  8. Robb Report. "The World's Number of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals Increased by Thousands in 2020."

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  10. Forbes. "Forbes World's Billionaires List."

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