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Chicago Lost More Millionaires In 2015 Than Any Other U.S. City

By Kirsten Onsgard,

It’s not just average Joes leaving Chicago in droves: Millionaires are moving away from Chicago at the highest rate of any U.S. city, according to a new report.

Citing concerns of racial tension and crime, about 3,000 millionaires —or 2 percent of the city’s ultra-wealthy—left the city in 2015. Chicago is now home to about 134,000 millionaires, according to the report by New World Wealth. Chicago also saw the fourth-highest net outflow of cities around the world, along with Paris, Rome and Athens. Greek millionaires cited economic reasons for leaving, while Parisians moved because of religious tensions and a lack of opportunity.

A declining millionaire population can be an ominous sign. Millionaires are often the first to leave an area because they have the means to move as they wish, unlike some middle-class citizens. Between 30 to 40 percent are also business owners.

Still, the U.S. is home to the most high-worth individuals, according to the 2015 World Wealth Report published by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management. It’s also home to two cities with the highest inflow of new millionaires: Seattle and San Francisco. Chicago’s wealthy emigrants tended to move to other U.S. cities, not internationally.

This comes after the Census Bureau reported that the Chicago area also saw the largest overall population decline of any metropolitan U.S. area, and failed to offset this decline with new residents for the first time since 1990. Chicago lost 6,263 in total population from July 2014 to July 2015, with many citing unemployment and the state’s fiscal crisis as reasons for fleeing. Illinois is now the only state without a budget.

But fears of increased racial tension and crime were unique to Chicago’s fleeing millionaires. 2015 was a tense and formative year for race relations in Chicago, following the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald and ensuing protests.

Though the wealth study did not break down millionaires by race, Chicago’s population of wealthy African-Americans—those with a household income of more than $100,000 per year—is also declining, according to Nielsen.


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