Forget hard times - L.A. has big gain in number of well-off residents

Another example of a rich-poor divide - last year the L.A. metro area had more than 256,000 high net worth individuals, defined as those having investable assets of $1 million or more (excluding your house and all the stuff that's inside). That's an 8.8 percent increase from a year earlier, according to consulting firm Capgemini. NY blows away ever other metro area with 720,000 HNWI's. Truth is, investable assets of $1 million or more hardly constitutes great wealth in 2011 dollars, but it is an indicator that plenty of people in L.A. are doing nicely - weak economy or no. (Combined with last week's report showing greater demand at area food banks, L.A. continues to resemble two giant bookends with very little in between.) The 8.8 percent increase was the second-highest of the top 10 metros, behind Houston (9.6 percent). Curiously, San Jose, among California's brighter economic spots, only saw a 2.7 percent increase in the number of HNWI's from 2009 to 2010. From press release:

"An important contributor to the increase in HNWI population we saw in these areas was the continued rise in U.S. equity and commodity markets, which led to many investors seeing the value of their investments grow," said William Sullivan, Head of Global Market Intelligence, Capgemini Financial Services. "We saw many HNWIs - not just in these MSAs, but globally - taking on more calculated investment risks and shifting assets into what we consider more aggressive asset classes in a continued effort to recoup some of the losses they faced as a result of the financial crisis."

Here's how the top 10 breaks down:

2010 Rank by #HNWIs (2009 in parentheses) US Metro Area and Adult Population (rounded) (%) 2009-10 HNWI Growth (%)

1 (1) New York
(15,489,000) 720.0 7.9%

2 (2) Los Angeles
(10,250,000) 256.5 8.8%

3 (3) Chicago
(7,621,000) 212.3 7.1%

4 (4) Washington D.C.
(4,436,000) 164.4 7.9%

5 (5) San Francisco
(3,561,000) 147.4 6.6%

6 (6) Philadelphia
(4,845,000) 110.4 6.0%

7 (7) Boston
(3,792,000) 109.8 7.3%

8 (9) Houston
(4,544,000) 96.7 9.6%

9 (8) Detroit
(3,548,000) 92.1 3.4%

10 (10) San Jose
(1,468,000) 88.8 2.7%

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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