Amid recent reports showing stagnant income growth and nearly half of Floridians struggling to afford basic needs comes this fresh insight into the Sunshine State's financial fortunes:
The ranks of super-rich Floridians jumped nearly 12 percent last year, the biggest surge among large states.
Wealth-X, a Singapore-based intelligence research firm, crunched the numbers on individuals with net assets of $30 million or more — a category dubbed ultra high net worth individuals.
Its report released Tuesday found Florida added nearly 500 ultra-wealthy the past year bringing that rich niche to 4,710. Its one-year growth spurt of 11.7 percent more residents on the high end of the wealth chart not only surpasses the rate of increase in other large states like California, New York and Texas, but ranks as the fifth biggest percentage increase in the country.
Wealth-X attributed Florida's growth to the financial and real estate sectors. A spokeswoman said no further state details or geographic breakdowns were available.
North Dakota, epicenter of the massive oil boom, experienced a 14.3 percent increase in high net worth residents, the fastest-growing ultra-rich population in the country. South Dakota wasn't far behind.
Nationwide, there are 69,560 ultra high net worth individuals, according to Wealth-X estimates.
An increasing gap between financial haves and have-nots has been a hallmark of the economic recovery, particularly as the stock market surges to new records, more lower-paying jobs are being created, and wage growth remains elusive.
Some recent data highlighting the disparity in Florida:
• The United Way found that nearly half of Florida households — 3.2 million in the state, including about 600,000 in Tampa Bay — are hard-pressed to pay for basic needs.
• The U.S. Commerce Department reported that per capita income in Tampa Bay rose just 1.3 percent in 2013, trailing the national average of 2 percent.
• Financial adviser website interest.com said Tampa Bay's median income — lowest among the 25 biggest metro areas and $4,000 less than the second-worst, Miami — makes it hard for middle-class residents to afford a home.
University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said it's not surprising that income disparity may be more pronounced in Florida than elsewhere.
He cited the movement of wealthy Brazilians and other international travelers into South Florida, the lure of Florida's no-income tax environment, and the blossoming of the stock market, which has sweetened the portfolios of many already-wealthy retirees attracted here.
Put it all together, Snaith said, "and it's going to obviously make the income inequality picture even more distorted in Florida."
Contact Jeff Harrington at email@example.com or (813) 226-3434. Follow @JeffMHarrington.