It’s been a volatile year for equities, but while the major indexes are close to record highs, the percentage of Americans invested in the stock market is at a record low.
Just 52 percent of Americans have any money in the stock market, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s tied with 2013 for the lowest level of stock investment in the nearly 20 years since Gallup has been asking about stock ownership.
Stock ownership had ticked back up in 2014 and 2015 after falling every year from a 2007 high, when nearly two-thirds of Americans invested in the stock market.
Middle-class Americans (those with an income between $30,000 and $75,000) were the most likely to have pulled their savings out of the stock market. Only about half of Americans in that group have money invested in equities now, down from more than 75 percent in 2007.
By age, Americans under age 35 are the most likely to have fled the market. The percentage of young people with money in stocks has fallen 14 points since 2007, to 38 percent.
Most financial planners believe that young adults need to invest in the market in order to capture the growth necessary to pay for retirement. They argue that the long-time horizon of young investors provides them an opportunity to make up for any losses in the short term.
A separate Gallup poll found that just over a fifth of Americans believe that the stock market is the best long-term investment, compared to more than a third who think real estate is the best long-term investment.