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Top 10 Wealthiest U.S. Cities: 2012

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America’s wealthiest may have seen a slight downturn in their fortunes last year, but they’re still doing better than their counterparts in other parts of the globe.

According to the Capgemini 2012 Metro Wealth Index, which looks at the changing populations of high net worth individuals in the United States’ largest metro areas between 2010 and 2011, economic uncertainty led to a 1.2% decline in HNWIs – yet the top five U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) all remained among the top 15 largest wealth markets worldwide.

In fact, the U.S. remains the largest HNWI country globally, says the report released Nov. 27 by technology and outsourcing consultant Capgemini in partnership with RBC Wealth Management.

“Each of the top five U.S. MSAs 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 for Capgemini Global Financial Services, in a statement.

(Check out last year’s Top 10 Wealthiest U.S. Cities at AdvisorOne.)

Auto factory in Detroit. (Photo: AP)10) Detroit

Motor City, which continued to battle high unemployment levels last year, saw growth of its high net worth population fall by 2.2% in the last year. The city ranked ninth in the previous year. In Capgemini’s 2011 index, HNWIs numbered 90,100 in the Detroit MSA’s overall population of 4.29 million compared with 92,100 in 2010.

9) San Jose

San Jose moved to ninth position in 2011 from 10th in 2010, with HNWI growth at 2.1% in 2011 versus 2.7% in 2010. The relatively small metro area, with a population of just 1.86 million, was home to 90,700 HNWIs in 2011 compared with 88,800 in 2010. Good performance by major local industries helped boost San Jose’s wealth numbers.

Houston skyline8) Houston

Houston’s MSA, which now has a total population of 6.09 million, saw its number of HNWIs rise 1.9% in 2011, to 98,500 individuals compared with 96.700 in 2010, thanks in part to strong performance by local business. However, growth slowed compared with the 9.8% HNWI growth rate reported in 2010. The city nevertheless maintained its eighth place ranking from 2010.

7) Philadelphia

Philadelphia moved one place down on the Capgemini index from sixth place last year due to poor equity market performance and house price pressure. The MSA totaling a population of 5.99 million saw a 0.9% drop in HNWIs to 109,400 in 2011 from 110,400 in 2010. Last year, Philly’s number of HNWIs grew by 6.0%.

A Revolutionary War re-enactor eating clam chowder in Boston. (Photo: AP)6) Boston

Boston, with a total MSA population of 4.59 million individuals, moved up one place to sixth position in 2011, driven by solid economic growth. HNWI growth was 0.4% in 2011 versus 7.3% in 2010, and HNWI population was 110,200 people in 2011 versus 109,800 in 2010.

5) San Francisco

San Francisco, dogged by high unemployment, managed to hold on to its fifth place ranking in 2011 thanks to the 0.3% growth of its HNWI population to 147,800 compared with a 6.6% growth rate and HNWI population of 147,400 in 2010. The metro area totals a population of 4.39 million.

Washington skyline at night. 4) Washington

The nation’s capital, with a population of 5.70 million throughout the Washington metropolitan statistical area, stayed in fourth place this year, with 1.1% HNWI growth in 2011 versus a much larger 7.9% in 2010. The area was home to 166,200 HNWIs in 2011 versus 164,400 in 2010.

3) Chicago

Chicago, with an overall population 9.51 million, kept its third-place ranking in 2011 despite high unemployment, although it helped to hamper HNWI growth, down 0.1%. That number compares with 7.1% in 2010. The total of high net worth individuals in Chicagoland came to 212,000 in 2011, slightly lower than 212,300 in 2010.

2) Los Angeles

Los Angeles’ HNWI population declined marginally by 0.3% to end the 2011 year at a total of 255,600 versus growth of 8.8% in 2010 that brought the HNWI to a total of 256,500. The Los Angeles metro area, with a total population of 12.95 million, suffered from high unemployment, like many other MSAs, and it held on to its second-place ranking in the Capgemini index.

New York City's Statue of Liberty1) New York

New York, with the nation’s largest metro population of 19.02 million, retained its top position and had the highest absolute growth in terms of number of high net-worth individuals in 2011, with an addition of about 7,100 people for a total population of 727,100 HNWIs in the region compared with 720, 000 in 2010.

While New York’s 2011 HNWI growth came to just 1.0% versus 7.9% in 2010, the metro area’s HNWI population was almost three times the HNWI population of Los Angeles and more than the combined HNWI population of Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.

“Each of the top five U.S. MSAs on its own is large enough to earn a ranking spot as one of the top 15 wealth markets in the world. For instance, New York has more HNWIs than the Middle East and Africa based on the markets we cover,” said Jean Lassignardie, chief sales and marketing officer for Capgemini Global Financial Services, in a statement.


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