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The Richest States in America

The Richest States


Ever wonder how wealthy the people are in your state? Well, we do. So we decided to do a little searching and came up with a list of the states that have the most (and fewest) millionaires. To get these numbers, we used a report from Phoenix Marketing International, which determined the number of millionaire households in each state as a percentage of the total population in that state as of mid-2009. According to Phoenix, a millionaire household is one that has at least $1 million in liquid assets, so real estate does not count. We’ve also included median household income by state which we took from 2008 census numbers, to provide you with a fuller picture of your state’s riches.

We’ll start with the 10 states that have the most millionaires and then list the 10 states that have the fewest.

Photo Credit: aresauburn

Has the United States Lost Its Upper Class?


We hear a lot about the endangered middle class, and rightly so. But the report by Phoenix provides some evidence that the upper class is suffering too. In 2009, there were a total of 5,139,385 millionaire households. In other words, 4.46% of all households in the country were millionaires. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it represents a significant decline. In 2008, there were 5,607,989 millionaires and the year before that there were 5,970,929. That means the recession has claimed nearly a million millionaires. Although one recent survey of 3,000 households claimed this trend may be reversing this year.

On to the millionaires… we’ll start with the states with the most (and the nation’s capitol is included here too).

Photo Credit: barbaranixon

10th Most Millionaires: Washington, D.C.


We know that strictly speaking D.C. isn’t a “state,” but they’ve definitely got their fair share of millionaires. Five percent of the households in the U.S. capital are millionaires. In fact, three of the richest counties in the U.S. as of last year were suburbs of D.C. In a thoughtful piece trying to explain this, Reason.com pinned this wealth on the large salaries that federal employees and lobbyists earn.

Total number of millionaire households: 13,028

Percent of population that are millionaires: 5%

Median household income: $58,553

9th Most Millionaires: California


California may be in the midst if a serious financial crisis, but it still has a tons of millionaires ... 662,735 to be exact. That’s by far the most in the country by number, but there are a ton of people in California, so it’s only in 9th place relative to the total population.

Total number of millionaire households: 662,735

Percent of population that are millionaires: 5.28%

Median household income: $61,017

8th Most Millionaires: New Hampshire


New Hampshire has more than 27,000 millionaire households, and I can only hope all of them are as interesting as Jason Sanderson, a pro-wrestler, priest and winner of a multi-million dollar jackpot.

Total number of millionaire households: 27,562

Percentage of population that are millionaires: 5.34%

Median household income: $63,235

7th Most Millionaires: Alaska


Sarah Palin isn’t the only millionaire in Alaska, there are more than 13,000 others. It probably doesn’t hurt that there's a lot of oil money flowing through the state.

Total number of millionaire households: 13,348

Percent of population that are millionaires: 5.39%

Median household income: $67,332

6th Most Millionaires: Massachusetts


Just because there are a ton of millionaires in this state doesn’t mean it’s an easy place to be a millionaire. One report from a couple years ago argued that there were billions of dollars in back taxes owed in this state, and much of was from wealthy households that skimped on their tax returns.

Total number of millionaire households: 137,792

Percent of population that are millionaires: 5.5%

Median household income: $65,304

5th Most Millionaires: Virginia


There are more than 150,000 millionaire households in this state, many of which probably make their money for the same reasons that those in D.C. do. So it’s only fitting that the citizens have plenty of millionaires running their state government. Virginia’s rank may actually increase in the future as millionaires from neighboring states (which will be revealed later on the list) flock here to avoid higher taxes.

Total number of millionaire households: 166,596

Percent of population that are millionaires: 5.51%

Median household income: $61,210

4th Most Millionaires: Connecticut


If you’ve ever passed through Greenwich, Conn., it shouldn’t surprise you too much to see this state on the list. But who knows if Connecticut’s millions will be there for much longer. Late last year, Connecticut approved a new spending plan that increases taxes on the wealthiest citizens. It’s not a millionaire's tax, per se, since the highest tax rate (6.5%) is applied to anyone who makes $500,000 or more, but the effect is the same.

Total number of millionaire households: 82,837

Percent of population that are millionaires: 6.15%

Median household income: $68,294

3rd Most Millionaires: New Jersey


There are nearly 200,000 millionaire households in this state, or 6.22% of the population, earning it a spot in the top three on our list. In 2007, New Jersey actually had the top spot with 228,442 millionaire households, but apparently some have left for other shores. Part of the problem may be New Jersey’s higher tax rate. Like Connecticut, New Jersey increased the taxes for anyone earning $500,000 or more to 8.97% (it was originally 6.37%).

However, New Jersey millionaires do have at least one thing to be thankful for (beside being rich, that is). Their state also has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, as we recently reported.

Total number of millionaire households: 197,694

Percent of population that are millionaires: 6.22%

Median household income: $70,347

2nd Most Millionaires: Maryland


There may be nearly 150,000 millionaire households in this state, but that number will definitely go down in the next year. As we mentioned earlier, Maryland pioneered a millionaire tax back in 2008, and as a result, many of its richer citizens seem to have fled to states like Virginia. According to the Wall Street Journal, between 2008 and 2009, the number of “million-dollar income tax returns” declined by one-third. Either they are crossing state lines or just hiding out somewhere.

Total number of millionaire households: 133,299

Percent of population that are millionaires: 6.26%

Median household income: $70,482

The Most Millionaires: Hawaii


There may only be some 28,000 millionaire households in this state, but when you consider that there are less than half a million Hawaiian households in total, that number starts to seem a lot bigger. So, if you’re ever vacationing in Hawaii and are a little short on money to pay a bill, don’t worry, there’s a good chance you should be able to find someone there who could pick up the check.

Of course, in all seriousness, it’s no paradise being rich in Hawaii. The state is known for having a high cost of living and last year they enacted a steep 11% income tax on anyone making more than $200,000. And yet, even with that added tax, Hawaii is still facing a severe budget crisis and there’s no doubt that the poorer Hawaiians probably wish these millionaires would do even more to help.

Total number of millionaire households: 28,363

Percent of population that are millionaires: 6.41%

Median household income: $66,701

10th Fewest Millionaires: Alabama


Alabama leads off this portion of the list with 66,314 millionaire households, which represents just 3.55% of the population. In the previous year, Alabama had about 8,000 more millionaires. One paper blamed this decline on the “devaluation of businesses and property” due to the recession.

Total number of millionaire households: 66,314

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.55%

Median household income: $42,586

9th Fewest Millionaires: Louisiana


Just 3.54% of the households in Louisiana are millionaires. But I guess this doesn’t bother the people there too much since Louisiana also ranked as the least depressed state in the country in our recent survey. The big problem in Louisiana is not the number of wealthy people, but the fact that not all citizens seem to have the equal opportunity to become wealthy.

Total number of millionaire households: 59,747

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.54%

Median household income: $43,635

8th Fewest Millionaires: Tennessee


Despite having fewer millionaires than most states, Tennessee has had some notably rich residents. Kenny Chesney and Al Gore are just two names that come to mind.

Total number of millionaire households: 88,284

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.53%

Median household income: $43,610

7th Fewest Millionaires: Oklahoma


Oklahoma may not have many millionaires, but the ones that are there have clashed with the poorer citizens in the state. One paper recently criticized a state plan to increase taxes on groceries and utilities, which hurts those struggling to get by, rather than taxing the millionaires a little more.

Total number of millionaire households: 50,304

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.51%

Median household income: $42,836

6th Fewest Millionaires: North Dakota


North Dakota had the fewest millionaire households of any state by number, with more than 9,000 in total, and one of the fewest overall by percentage of the total population. But despite that, a few lucky North Dakotans became “overnight millionaires” thanks to a recent oil boom.

Total number of millionaire households: 9,051

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.42%

Median household income: $46,574

5th Fewest Millionaires: South Dakota


Usually, I make fun of one of the Dakotas when they pop up in our countdown lists (nothing personal- South Dakota is as good as the next state), but I might as well keep up the streak. There may not be that many millionaires in this state, but then again, what would they spend all their money on in South Dakota anyway? I’m pretty sure a one-way plane ticket outta there won’t set you back too much… Boom! Actually, South Dakota is a regular in the top 10 of our Happiness Index so I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about.

Total number of millionaire households: 10,646

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.39%

Median household income: $46,244

4th Fewest Millionaires: Kentucky


Here’s a little piece of trivia for all you cinemaphiles out there. Who is the famous and handsome actor born in Kentucky who recently signed the most lucrative movie deal in history? Give up? It’s Johnny Depp. Last year he inked a $38 million deal to do Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

Total number of millionaire households: 57,059

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.3%

Median household income: $41,489

3rd Fewest Millionaires: West Virginia


Virginia may have more millionaires than most states, but its sister state is millionaire-deprived. In fact, West Virginia is one of the poorer states in the country, and it had one of the lowest median household incomes nationwide.

Total number of millionaire households: 24,941

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.28%

Median household income: $37,528

2nd Fewest Millionaires: Arkansas


It may be known as the state that gave us Bill Clinton, a man who makes $150,000 or more for every speech he gives, but Arkansas has the second fewest millionaires in the country. Just 3.12% of all households in the state have $1 million or more in liquid assets.

Total number of millionaire households: $35,286

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.12%

Median household income: $38,820

The Fewest Millionaires: Mississippi


If you’re ever in Mississippi, hide your fat wallet or you might make someone jealous. Just more than 3% of the households in this state qualify as millionaires, and the median household income is less than $40,000 a year. But while Mississippi may be one of the poorer states in the country, it’s also the most religious state according to our list, so perhaps they can chalk it up to living a more austere life.

Total number of millionaire households: 33,792

Percent of population that are millionaires: 3.06%

Median household income: $37,818

And what about taxes???


Generally speaking, there's nothing millionaires hate more than taxes, but it turns out that American millionaires might have it much better than thair counterparts across the pond. Take a look at our recent post, The Highest Taxes in the World, for more info.

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