In the latest indicator that perhaps the worst of the economic malaise is behind us, a new report released on Wednesday by Spectrem Group finds that the number of U.S. households with a net worth of more than $1 million, excluding their primary residence, jumped 8% to more than 8.4 million households in 2010.

More telling, especially for broker-dealers, financial advisors and private banks always on the prowl for new deep-pocketed clients, the number of ultra net worth households -- defined as those with a net worth of more than $5 million, also increased 8% last year to more than 1.06 million.

This marks the second year in a row the total number of well-heeled households has increased following 2009's 16% surge, according an online survey of more than 3,000 high net worth and ultra high net worth households conducted by the Chicago-based strategic consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

"The millionaire comeback continues," Spectrem Group President George Walper, Jr. said in the report. "After taking a big recession-driven hit in 2008, the U.S. millionaire population staged a second-straight year of growth in 2010, adding 600,000 new millionaires." 

This is particularly good news for the financial services industry considering a February survey of the high net worth crowd revealed more and more wealthy investors are getting back into the game and their highest level of confidence in both the economy and stock market in more than four years.

Spectrem's most recent Millionaire Investor Confidence Index rose 15 points to a score of 17 last month, the second-largest, one-month jump in index history and a quantum leap from January's score of 2 and clear indication that high net worth individuals are at least mildly bullish as a group.

Among the not-quite-millionaire set, households with a net worth of $500,000 but less than $1 million improved 6% to 13.5 million last year, up from 12.7 million in 2009.


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