L.A. County Home to Most Millionaires

ByMICHELE STEELE

April 3, 2006 — -- The United States booms when it comes to creating millionaires.

The nation counted 8.9 million millionaire households in 2005 -- that's more American millionaires than ever before, according to British market researcher TNS Financial Services. It was the third consecutive year the number of U.S. millionaire households rose, and the total number of millionaires has jumped 62 percent since 2002. The study defined a millionaire as anyone who has a net worth of $1 million or more, excluding a primary residence.

The average millionaire household had a net worth of roughly $2.2 million, and about half of the heads of these households are 58 or older. Forty-five percent of millionaires are retired.

Four of the top 10 counties with the highest number of millionaire residents are located in California. With its tony bedroom communities and well-heeled celebrities, maybe it's no surprise Los Angeles County topped the list of millionaire counties with 262,800 households qualifying for millionaire status.

The top five millionaire strongholds were rounded out by Cook County, Ill. (167,873 millionaires), Orange County, Calif. (113, 299), Maricopa County, Ariz. (106, 210) and San Diego County, Calif. (100,030).

But for the "average" millionaire, champagne wishes may be as much a pipe dream as a caviar dream.

While the label "millionaire" may conjure images of business moguls like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the TNS study found that just 19 percent of U.S. millionaires own all or part of a private business or professional practice. Apparently, the lion's share of the country's millionaires made their money the old-fashioned way: working, saving and investing.

TNS reported that the most common goal mentioned by the millionaires in the survey was to "assure a comfortable standard of living during retirement." Lesser financial goals listed included leaving a big inheritance to children and charitable giving.

The study also found that about a third of these millionaire households do not own stocks or bonds, and 32 percent do not own a mutual fund. Perhaps most surprisingly, a quarter of them hold a second mortgage on a home.

But even without the lavish millionaire lifestyle, those on the TNS list are doing considerably better than the average hourly worker, whose wage increases trailed inflation last year by 0.2 percent, according the the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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