The rising stock market has pushed America's millionaire population close to its all-time highs before the recession.
According to data from Spectrem Group, the Chicago-based wealth research firm, there are now 8.99 million U.S. households whose net worth totals $1 million or more (not including primary residence). That's up from 8.6 million in 2011 and just short of the all-time record set in 2006, when the United States had 9.2 million millionaire households.
(Read more: 'Wealth Effect' Driven More By Homes Than Stocks)
The stock market's rise has been the biggest driver of millionaire creation. With this year's gains, Spectrem said, the United States may have already exceeded its all-time record.
Most of the benefits from rising stocks have gone to the wealthy, since the top 10 percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of all stocks, according to research from Edward Wolff of New York University. But the recent stock surge has also created a new gap within the wealthy, or at least between millionaires and the so-called affluent.
According to Spectrem, the number of households worth $1 million or more, and $5 million or more is near the record. But the number of households worth $500,000 or more (the affluent) is much lower than the record in 2007. There are 14.3 million households worth $500,000 or more — down from 15.7 million in 2007.