The 10 Best US Cities To Become A Millionaire

Photo: Flick via breenproductions

Though there’s no question the recession dealt a major blow to Americans’ purse strings, the U.S. is still home to the most millionaires* in the world, according to research and consulting firm Capgemini.And at least one consumer trend is holding steady these days –– the poor get poorer, while the rich get richer.

In Capgemini’s 2012 U.S. Metro Wealth Index, we can see exactly how the nation’s highest-earning consumers have managed to bounce back from the Great Recession.

“Each of the top five [cities] on its own is large enough to earn a ranking spot as one of the top 15 wealth markets in the world,” said Jean Lassignardie, chief sales and marketing officer of Capgemini Global Financial Services.

“For instance, New York has more [high net worth individuals] than the Middle East and Africa based on the markets we cover.”

Unsurprisingly, nine of the top 10 metro areas on this list are also among the most financially segregated places in the nation. 

*Capgemini defines “millionaire” as those with $1 million or more in investable assets, which doesn’t include their primary home.

10. Detroit

Thanks to poor equity markets and an auto industry pummelled by the economic downturn, Detroit is still struggling to regain its pre-recession population of millionaires.

Still, the city saw enough growth to maintain a spot in the top 10. After losing 16% of millionaires in 2008, it's added just about 15% back.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 94,500
2008: 79,500
2009: 89,100
2010: 92,100
2011: 90,100

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

9. San Jose

Like Houston, a strong local industry performance helped move San Jose from the No. 10 spot to No. 9 this year around.

Since the recession, it's added more than 20,000 millionaires to its ranks, representing a nearly 30% surge.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 80,700
2008: 69,500
2009: 86,500
2010: 88,800
2011: 90,700

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

8. Houston

Houston was one of the only cities on this year's list to see significant growth in high net worth individuals between 2010 and 2011, when millionaires grew by 2.1 per cent.

Jean Lassignardie, chief sales and marketing officer at Capgemini chalks it up to 'good performance of major local industries.'

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 86,700
2008: 68,400
2009: 88,200
2010: 96,700
2011: 98,500

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

7. Philadelphia

Philadelphia took a tumble this year, dropping from sixth to seventh place on this year's list 'generally due to poor equity markets and worsening global economic conditions,' said Lassignardie.

'In addition, Philadelphia faced house price pressure.'

Still, the city saw a massive 20% surge in millionaires between 2008 and 2009 and regained its pre-recession population by 2010.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 106,300
2008: 86,700
2009: 104,100
2010: 110,400
2011: 109,400

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

6. Boston

Thanks to a 0.4% jump in high net worth individuals, Boston moved up one place to sixth this year.

Millionaires increased by 14% between 2008 and 2009, followed by a 7% surge between 2009 and 2010.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 107,900
2008: 89,400
2009: 102,300
2010: 109,800
2011: 110,200

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

5. San Francisco

Despite high unemployment rates, high earning San Franciscans managed to recover nicely after the recession.

Millionaires saw a 14.5% surge between 2008 and 2009, followed by steady 6.6% and 0.3% growth over the next two years.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 142,600
2008: 120,800
2009: 138,300
2010: 147,400
2011: 147,800

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

4. Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. made the top 5 once again this year, thanks to steady growth among millionaires since 2007, when more than 15 per cent of the group fell from the ranks.

That all changed between 2008 and 2009, when millionaires soared by more than 19 per cent, bringing the number of millionaires back up to the pre-recession rates.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 151,900
2008: 127,700
2009: 152,400
2010: 164,400
2011: 166,200

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

3. Chicago

Much like other cities on this list, Chicago's millionaires took a major hit during the recession, then bounced back in a big way in 2009.

That year saw a 15.1 per cent growth in high net worth individuals, a rate that has tapered off in the last few years. The 2010 to 2011 period saw a 0.1 per cent drop in millionaire growth, but the group is still stronger than prior to the recession.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 205,400
2008: 172,200
2009: 198,100
2010: 212,300
2011: 212,100

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

2. Los Angeles

Despite struggling with employment growth, Los Angeles' population of millionaires has seen large growth over the last few years.

High net worth consumers fell between 2010 and 2011, but the city saw a major jump between 2008 and 2010. Still, it's home to less than half as many millionaires as the No. 1 state.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 253,300
2008: 208,200
2009: 235,800
2010: 256,500
2011: 255,600

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

1. New York

The highest absolute growth in millionaires was in none other than New York, where more than 7,100 people saw their wealth grow enough to join the ranks.

After the recession dealt a blow to millionaires in 2007 and 2008, the number of high net worth individuals in the Big Apple rebounded. Between 2008 and 2009, the group saw an 18.7% surge. The growth simmered down to a healthy 1 per cent between 2010 and 2011.

New York's millionaire club is almost three times as high as L.A. and more than L.A., Chicago and Washington, D.C. combined.

Millionaire population 2007-2011:

2007: 650,100
2008: 561,800
2009: 667,200
2010: 720,000
2011: 727,100

Source: Capgemini U.S. Metro Wealth Index

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