On the back of a decent jobs report and before Americans vote on Nov. 6 on whether to reelect President Barack Obama, another set of data shows that Obama, while a Democrat, has also not been too bad for the nation’s wealthy. A new report by London-based WealthInsight finds that in 2011, the US was home to 5.1 million millionaires—those with net assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residences—a group whose numbers have recovered quickly under Obama’s administration since the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. “Obama certainly has not been too obstructive to wealth creation,” says Christopher Rocks, an analyst. That group holds about $18.8 trillion in wealth.
About 1.1 million “high net worth individuals,” a polite term for the rich, have been added to the US population during Obama’s first three years in office. That is a rate of a little over 1,000 individuals becoming millionaires a day—over twice as fast as under George W. Bush, who added 457 millionaires a day, according to data from WealthInsight. That’s not counting the final year of Bush’s term, 2008, when the crisis knocked more millionaires out of millionairedom than had entered it during the preceding seven years.
To break down the numbers a little more: Bush saw an increase of 258,286 millionaires in his first term and almost a million in his second, up to 2007. Thus, the increase of millionaires in the US in Bush’s first seven years was 28.5%, while in Obama’s first three years it has so far been 28.6%, WealthInsight analysts said.
Are these figures really comparable? Obama’s high rate of adding millionaires is in large part a reflection of the recovery from the crisis; had there not been a crisis, it’s hard to say whether the rich would have swelled their ranks at the same rate. And the number of millionaires in 2011 is still 165,360 lower than it was in 2007.
However, according to WealthInsight’s projections, the rich have nothing to fear even in a second Obama term. Assuming the next president can convince Congress to prevent the US falling off the fiscal cliff (the tax and spending cuts that go into effect at the end of the year), WealthInsight predicts that, whether Romney or Obama wins, the number of millionaires will grow to 6.1 million, with their wealth expanding to $23.5 trillion in 2016—so long as there isn’t another financial crisis.