The tide is turning in the USA, a country shaped by generations of immigrants from across the globe, whose descendants went on to create the largest wealth market in the world. However, as we enter 2023, a new dynamic is playing out, with wealthy Americans seeking greener pastures abroad at an unprecedented rate. And as highlighted in the inaugural USA Wealth Report, published by investment migration specialists Henley & Partners in partnership with wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth, the country is also losing its luster among migrating millionaires, with experts commenting that "the 'American Dream' is now on life-support."
The report also reveals that there is a significant internal movement of HNWIs currently underway within the country. Cities such as Austin, Scottsdale, Greenwich, and Miami are gaining millionaires, while the big wealth hubs of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City are losing them.
The 2023 USA Wealth Report features exclusive new private wealth research and data, providing a comprehensive review of America's wealth sector, including trends among high-net-worth individuals, city wealth statistics, millionaire migration patterns, and a review of the key drivers and creators of wealth. The data reveals a notable drop in net inflows of millionaires to America in 2022 when the figure fell to just 1,500, when compared with the period from 2013 to 2019 when net inflows of millionaires fluctuated between 6,400 to 10,800 annually.
In terms of private wealth outflows, Henley & Partners' Head of North America, Mehdi Kadiri, says the firm received the most enquiries from US citizens on record in 2022 (a 447% increase from 2019) when, for the first time, Americans ranked highest of all nationalities worldwide applying for residence and citizenship by investment programs. "To meet this significant and growing demand from US investors, Henley & Partners has opened three American offices this year, in the wealth hubs of Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City."
Benchmarking America's private wealth
America is the world's largest wealth market by a substantial margin, accounting for an extraordinary 32% of global wealth and 36% of the world's dollar millionaires. The USA is also home to the two largest stock markets in the world (the NYSE and the Nasdaq) as well as hosting nine of the top ten largest companies globally by market cap. The wealth held in New York City alone outstrips that of most G20 countries.
By comparison, although its economic rival China ranks only marginally behind in nominal GDP terms, when it comes to private wealth, America is in a league of its own, with treble the total wealth of China and seven times as many dollar millionaires. Significantly, wealth per capita levels in the USA are 12 times higher than in China.
Misha Glenny, award-winning journalist and author, says the relationship between the economic giants will be the single most important factor in determining the world's future. "China has the largest dollar reserves outside the USA and a monopoly on raw materials essential for hi-tech production and the green transition. For this reason, they prop each other up — one falls, and the other comes tumbling down with it. China today presents both a serious ideological and an economic threat to the USA because they are so deeply entangled — yet increasingly competitive."
Wealthiest and fastest growing US cities
New York City takes the crown as the wealthiest city in the US (and the world) with 340,000 millionaires, followed by the Bay Area (285,000), Los Angeles (205,400), Chicago (124,000) and Houston (98,500).
When it comes to America's fastest growing wealth hubs, five cities have experienced millionaire growth of more than 70% in the past decade. Frontrunner Austin's millionaire population shot up by 102% between 2012 and 2022, and the city now boasts 30,500 resident high-net-worth individuals worth USD 1 million or more. West Palm Beach grew by 90% (home to 9,400 millionaires), Scottsdale by 88% (with 13,900 millionaires), Miami by 75% (with 38,000 millionaires), and Greenwich & Darien by 72% (with 11,900 millionaires).