Whether manufacturing is in decline or on the mend, America continues to produce one thing more than any other country on the planet: billionaires.
Of the 1,226 personalities celebrated in the March 26 issue of Forbes – from newcomers like Elon Musk, the polarizing founder of Tesla Motors, and Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, to old standards like Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway – 425 call the United States home.
When it comes to wealth creation, however, not every state is created equal. The $1.64 trillion held by the 425 richest Americans isn’t spread equally across the country. Money attracts money, as the saying goes, which might help explain why 72 percent of America’s billionaires take up residence in just 10 states:
Eight billionaires hail from the State of Washington, including the founders of Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon.com. Washington-based businesses benefit from a highly literate population and the absence of corporate and income taxes.
Nine billionaires call Maryland home, including the founder of the Chevy Chase Bank and the brothers who own Marriott Hotels. The state is also heavily involved with shipping, biotechnology, and government projects, playing host to the Port of Baltimore, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), John’s Hopkins University, and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Ten of America’s billionaires — including those influential in the establishment of household brands like Motorola, Kohler, and S.C. Johnson & Co. — take up residence in the Badger State. Long known for its production of cheese and Packers fans, in recent years, the state has also drawn acclaim for its internationally recognized university system.
Eleven billionaires call the Nutmeg State home. Today, towns like New Canaan and Darien rank among the highest-earning towns in the country. In 2009, the residents earned an average household income of $171,806 and $176,442, respectively.
Twelve billionaires — inclusing Richard DeVos, founder of Amway, and Manoj Bhargava, creator the 5-hour Energy Drink – call the Great Lakes State home. Long known for its production of automobiles, Michigan is also a leader in technology — spending more per capita on research and development than any state in the country.
Eighteen billionaires, including media mogul Oprah Winfrey, call Illinois home. Though the major industries that dominate the Illinois economy have shifted over the decades — from steel and meat-packing to service industries like finance and logistics — Chicago’s location at the crossroads of interstate rail lines and the Great Lakes, offers a unique ballast for the state.
Twenty-nine billionaires call Florida home, including Micky Arison, former CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines; Ted Turner, founder of CNN; and Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway restaurants. As if the warm climate were not enough of an attraction, Florida remains one of the few states that do not charge a personal income tax.
Named the “Best State for Business” by Chief Executive magazine in 2011, perhaps it comes as no surprise that Texas hosts 48 of America’s billionaires. Last year, Texas displaced New York as the country’s second-largest economy.
2. New York
“It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor,” Joan Didion wrote in her 1967 essay “Goodbye to All That.” When it comes to Forbes‘ rankings, this adage is true. Seventy of America’s billionaires — including Charles and David Koch, George Soros, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — call New York home.
Despite a string of budget shortfalls, California continues to host more billionaires — 94 — than any other state in the country. Dozens of major technology companies — from Google and Apple to Facebook and Twitter — call California’s Silicon Valley home.