THE UPPER ECHELON

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A group that accounts for only 2 percent of all U.S. households usually doesn't warrant much attention from marketers. But this 2 percent is obviously the exception to the rule. Commanding the biggest bucks in America, this small, select group of households includes the titans of U.S. earning and spending. When Bill Gates and Oprah filled out their Census forms, this is the box they undoubtedly checked.

Those in the upper echelon share a lot demographically with their slightly less wealthy counterparts, who earn between $100,000 and $199,999, but the two groups aren't exactly the same. For one thing, while both tend to be concentrated in the power centers of America — New York, Washington and San Francisco — the super-wealthy also have homes in sunny, leisure locales. Among them: Naples and West Palm Beach in Florida, and Santa Barbara in California.

Another difference between the affluent and the super-rich: The super-rich tend to be older — more than one-third are over 55, which suggests that they are more likely to receive income from other sources besides a weekly paycheck. By contrast, the largest group among the affluent is still of working age, a more sprightly 45 to 54. No surprise, then, that there are a large number of super-deluxe empty nests out there: No children reside in more than 1 million of the nation's upper-echelon households. Whether super-affluent or merely affluent, big money apparently brings with it a fondness for matrimony. Eight in 10 affluent and super affluent households consist of a married-couple with children, compared with the U.S. average of 52.5 percent. And while nearly a third of U.S. households live without any family members at all, the rich have a harder time doing without the relatives: Just 14 percent of the super-affluent are in non-family households. Diversity, however, is hard to spot. Whites account for 90 percent of super-affluent households, compared with less than 80 percent of all U.S. households. As more members of minorities move into the upper-middle class, the upper crust may eventually be transformed into something other than white bread.

TOP 50 METROS: $200,000 OR MORE

The super-rich flock to power centers like New York and Washington, and scenic metros like West Palm Beach, Fla., and Santa Barbara, Calif. Metros that are also financial centers are home to a large share of the upper crust, such as Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle and Nashville.

RANK METRO NUMBER PERCENT
1 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA CMSA 152,989 6.0%
2 Naples, FL MSA 5,994 5.8%
3 New York-Long Island-Northern New Jersey, NY-NJ-CT-PA CMSA 366,594 4.7%
4 West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL MSA 21,898 4.6%
5 Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV CMSA 112,181 3.9%
6 Boston-Worcester-Lawrence, MA-NH-ME-CT CMSA 83,311 3.8%
7 Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA MSA 5,054 3.7%
8 Chicago-Gary-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI CMSA 115,258 3.5%
9 Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA CMSA 180,381 3.4%
10 Atlanta, GA MSA 50,550 3.4%
11 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX CMSA 59,816 3.1%
12 Denver-Boulder-Greeley, CO CMSA 30,865 3.1%
13 Salinas, CA MSA 3,636 3.0%
14 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI MSA 34,006 3.0%
15 Austin-San Marcos, TX MSA 14,068 3.0%
16 San Diego, CA MSA 29,507 3.0%
17 Rochester, MN MSA 1,397 2.9%
18 Sarasota-Bradenton, FL MSA 7,621 2.9%
19 Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX CMSA 46,662 2.8%
20 Hartford, CT MSA 12,995 2.8%
21 Philadelphia-Atlantic City-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD CMSA 65,160 2.8%
22 Fort Myers-Cape Coral, FL MSA 5,207 2.8%
23 Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA CMSA 38,103 2.7%
24 Reno, NV MSA 3,569 2.7%
25 Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC MSA 15,301 2.7%
26 Portland, ME MSA 2,636 2.6%
27 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL CMSA 37,310 2.6%
28 Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC MSA 11,891 2.6%
29 Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, MI CMSA 53,615 2.6%
30 Santa Fe, NM MSA 1,536 2.6%
31 Honolulu, HI MSA 7,282 2.5%
32 Anchorage, AK MSA 2,400 2.5%
33 Barnstable-Yarmouth, MA MSA 1,733 2.5%
34 Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie, FL MSA 3,295 2.5%
35 Savannah, GA MSA 2,765 2.5%
36 Nashville, TN MSA 11,784 2.5%
37 Phoenix-Mesa, AZ MSA 29,070 2.4%
38 Charlottesville, VA MSA 1,502 2.4%
39 Cincinnati-Hamilton, OH-KY-IN CMSA 18,186 2.4%
40 Richmond-Petersburg, VA MSA 9,034 2.3%
41 Birmingham, AL MSA 8,337 2.3%
42 Memphis, TN-AR-MS MSA 9,630 2.3%
43 Iowa City, IA MSA 978 2.2%
44 Indianapolis, IN MSA 13,864 2.2%
45 St. Louis, MO-IL MSA 22,177 2.2%
46 Des Moines, IA MSA 3,930 2.2%
47 Kansas City, MO-KS MSA 15,131 2.2%
48 Fort Collins-Loveland, CO MSA 2,110 2.2%
49 Madison, WI MSA 3,709 2.1%
50 Milwaukee-Racine, WI CMSA 14,019 2.1%
Note: Statistical ties are due to rounding.
Source: American Demographics analysis of Census 2000 data

WEALTH CONCENTRATES AMONG WHITES

Most household members earning $200,000 or more are white. Only 11 percent of the super-affluent identify as other than white alone. Among the minorities in the super-affluent category, Asians make up the largest share as well as the largest number of households.

RACE NUMBER PERCENT
White alone 2,226,933 89.0%
Black alone 102,287 4.1%
Native American alone 6,068 0.2%
Asian alone 110,935 4.4%
Multirace 28,256 1.1%
Hispanic 95,721 3.8%
Note: Does not add to 100 percent because chart includes Hispanics, who can be of any race, and excludes Native Hawaiians.
Source: American Demographics analysis of Census 2000 data
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