Wealth Market Emerges Even in the Midst of Economic Downturn

May 21, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Household Income

Despite the economic downturn, the population of affluent Americans (those with household income and income producing assets (IPA) of $100,000+) has grown and now makes up the top 19% of all US households, according to a Nielsen Company analysis.

Deemed the “New Mass Affluent,” this group’s numbers are rising, with some 22 million households now earning over $100,000 – a 23% increase from a decade ago after adjusting for inflation, the study showed.

“Earning $100,000 may seem modest compared to the salaries of the big-city elite, but it is more than double the national median income of $49,280,” said Jane Crossan, VP of the Financial Services Group at Claritas, Nielsen’s marketing information provider, which conducted the analysis.

“There are more higher-earning Americans than ever, signaling a growing opportunity for many business sectors to capitalize on reaching this market. This group controls $22 trillion in assets.”

A ranking of population areas shows that the New Mass Affluent are increasingly turning up beyond the nation’s beltways – in “second cities” like Los Alamos, NM, the top-ranked market, number three Torrington, CT, and number-six Naples-Marco Island, FL:

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Some of the other unlikely upscale markets on the list include number nine Trenton, NJ (due to pockets of gentrification), number 10 Juneau, AK (a thriving state capital) and Easton, MD, a small town rapidly evolving into a retirement community, at number 20.

Unlike traditional power centers like New York and Chicago, where residents possess large incomes and lavish homes, these high-IPA hotspots skew older than average, having attracted many Baby Boomers still adding to their nest egg and active retirees who haven’t begun to crack theirs, Crossan said.
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Overall, California led the list with six markets, followed by Connecticut with three and Maryland with two.

The largest market in California was number five San Jose-Sunnyvale with 593,262 households.

Washington DC was the highest ranking major metro, at number four. The only other major market on the list was Minneapolis, at number 15.

The “Affluence in America” report locates the New Mass Affluent geographically by ranking the top 20 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) based on $100,000-plus in IPA, or liquid financial assets including checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, IRAs, mutual funds, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds and securities. A CBSA includes both metropolitan areas of at least 50,000 population and micropolitan areas with a population between 10,000-49,999.

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