China’s millionaire machine has slowed, suggesting that the country’s economic weakness is reaching the top of the economy.
China’s millionaire population grew 3.6 percent last year, adding 100,000 millionaires and bringing its total millionaire count to 2.9 million, according a new report by the Chinese wealth website Hurun. The growth rate marks a sudden slowdown from the double-digit millionaire growth in China in recent years.
By contrast, the U.S. added 640,000 millionaires last year, bringing its total to 9.63 million, according to Spectrem Group. Spectrem defines millionaires as households with investible assets of $1 million or more.
The number of Chinese worth $16 million or more grew 4 percent to 67,000, according to the report from Hurun and the Industrial Bank.
Of the 100,000 new millionaires, 30,000 were in Shanghai, 17,000 in Guangdong and 15,000 in Beijing. Beijing still has the most millionaires in China, with 490,000, according to the report.
The report also looked at the health and hobbies of Chinese millionaires. It said the overall “spiritual satisfaction” of Chinese millionaires is relatively high, while the richer millionaires show even higher degrees of satisfaction.
But China’s notorious pollution levels are reaching the penthouses: 87 percent of Chinese millionaires are dissatisfied with pollution levels.
Chinese millionaires spend an average of three hours a week exercising, with jogging, badminton and swimming listed as their top three forms of exercise.
They read an average of 10 hours a week, but richer millionaires read 15 hours a week.
“Chinese millionaires are setting aside more time than I expected towards reading and learning, as well as exercise,” said Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.
The top three hobbies of the Chinese rich are fine dining, travel and exercise. Millionaires traveled an average of once a year and spent an average of $10,000.
—By CNBC’s Robert Frank