Richest households pass 1 million mark

Report finds households with net worth of at least $5 million grew 23 percent to 1.14 million in 2006.

By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- It's getting less and less lonely at the top. The number of U.S. households with a net worth of $5 million or more exceeded 1 million for the first time, according to a report released Tuesday.

And that doesn't include the value of their primary homes.

The 1.14 million "ultra high net worth" households in 2006 is up from 930,000 in 2005 and is quadruple the 250,000 counted a decade ago, according to findings from "Affluent Market Insights 2007," compiled by the Spectrem Group, a consulting firm specializing in affluent and retirement markets.

And those on their way to being ultra high net worth grew, too. Spectrem found that the number of U.S. households with a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding primary homes, grew to 9 million, up 8 percent from the year before, while households with at least $500,000 rose 9 percent to 15.3 million.

The average age of those heading up the most affluent households is 65, while the average age of those heading up homes with at least $500,000 in net worth is 56.

Not surprisingly, the top three occupations of those with ultra high net worth are senior corporate executives, business owners and physicians or dentists. More than half of the affluent households in Spectrem's study, however, are dual-income households, where both spouses work full-time, or, if they're already retired, both spouses used to work full-time.

The healthy growth in wealthy households - the residents of which are typically at or near retirement age - has not been matched by a healthy growth in the retirement savings of many in the workforce. A study released last week found that nearly half of all workers saving for retirement have savings that fall short of the $25,000 mark, including half of workers age 35 to 44 and a third of workers age 45 to 55 and over. Top of page