How many Americans own stocks? Around 145 million – but the richest 10% own more than 80%

56% of American adults, or about 145 million people, own stocks. That percentage hasn’t changed much over the past decade, despite huge gains in the market and the recent craze for stocks even.

That’s according to Gallup, which has conducted polls on the number of Americans owning stocks for more than 20 years.

The last time over 60% of Americans owned stocks was in 2008. Share ownership rates have not reached the levels seen before the 2008 recession. Since 2009, an average of 55% of Americans reported owning shares.

While the percentage of Americans who own stocks has remained relatively stable, there have been shifts in share ownership broken down by wealth, generations, and race.

Main conclusions

  • About 145 million Americans – 56% of American adults – own stocks. Shareholding has not fully reached the levels seen before the 2008 recession.
  • American families own an average of $ 40,000 in stocks, which is below pre-2008 recession levels, but well above values ​​held in the 1990s.
  • Families directly own an average of $ 25,000 in stocks (stocks held directly include those not held in mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc.).
  • The richest 10% of Americans own 89% of the shares, worth $ 35.870 billion.
  • The richest 1% of Americans in terms of net worth increased their stock ownership by 2% during the pandemic. The value of their shares increased by $ 10 trillion.
  • Baby boomers own 55% of the shares, valued at $ 22 trillion. Millennials own 2.5% of the shares, worth $ 1,000 billion.
  • White Americans own 90% of the stock, worth $ 36.15 trillion.

56% of American adults – about 145 million people – own stocks

144.6 million Americans, or 56% of American adults, own stocks, according to Gallup.

The percentage of Americans who own stocks hasn’t changed much over the past decade, despite strong growth during that time and the recent stock market frenzy of memes.

Year

Percentage of Americans who own stocks

2000

60%

2001

62%

2002

63%

2003

61%

2004

63%

2005

61%

2006

62%

2007

62%

2008

61%

2009

59%

2010

56%

2011

57%

2012

53%

2013

52%

2014

54%

2015

55%

2016

52%

2017

54%

2018

55%

2019

55%

2020

55%

2021

56%

Data source: Gallup (2021).

Most stocks are held indirectly, for example through a mutual fund, index fund, or retirement account like a 401 (k). Directly owned stocks are those that investors have purchased independently of a fund or retirement account.

According to the Federal Reserve, 53% of U.S. families, or roughly 64.6 million families, owned shares in 2019. Only 15%, or 18.6 million families, directly owned shares.

As with Gallup data, ownership and direct ownership of stocks peaked before the 2008 recession and have yet to fully recover. The percentage of American families who own stocks directly has fluctuated much less than the overall percentage of American families who own stocks.

The faster growth in the overall percentage of American families who owned stocks from 1989 to 2001 compared to those who directly owned stocks can at least in part be attributed to the fact that 401 (k) are more widely adopted. In 1989, 17.3 million Americans participated in a 401 (k) program. By 2000, that number had more than doubled, with 39.8 million Americans enrolled in a 401 (k) program.

Year

Percentage of U.S. families who own stocks

Percentage of U.S. families who directly own stocks

1989

32%

17%

1992

37%

17%

1995

40%

15%

1998

49%

19%

2001

53%

21%

2004

50%

21%

2007

53%

18%

2010

50%

15%

2013

49%

14%

2016

52%

14%

2019

53%

15%

Data source: Federal Reserve (2020).

American families own an average of $ 40,000 in stocks

The median value of stocks owned by American families in 2019 was $ 40,000, lower than pre-2008 recession levels, but far higher than in the early and mid-1990s.

The median value of stocks held directly by American families in 2019 was $ 25,000, a few thousand dollars below the median value recorded before the 2008 recession and the peak value recorded in 2013.

Year

Median value of shares held by American families

Median value of shares held directly by American families

1989

$ 17,901

$ 15,912

1992

$ 19,665

$ 14,302

1995

$ 24,205

$ 15,024

1998

$ 39,320

$ 28,310

2001

$ 50,548

$ 28,885

2004

$ 44,568

$ 20,335

2007

$ 41,970

$ 20,985

2010

$ 34,169

$ 23,565

2013

$ 39,314

$ 29,651

2016

$ 42,543

$ 26,589

2019

$ 40,000

$ 25,000

Data source: Federal Reserve (2020).

Richest 10% of Americans own 89% of stocks, worth $ 35.870 billion

While more than half of American adults own stocks, most don’t own a lot – 89% of stocks are owned by the richest 10% of Americans. These holdings are worth $ 35.87 trillion.

The richest 1% of Americans in terms of net worth alone own 53% of the stocks, valued at $ 21.71 trillion. The next 9% own 35.1% of the shares, worth $ 14.16 trillion, according to Q2 2021 data collected by the Federal Reserve.

The next 40% of Americans own 10.5% of the shares, worth $ 4.24 trillion.

The poorest 50% of Americans in terms of net worth own 0.6% of stocks, worth $ 26 billion.

While the value of stocks held by all segments of wealth increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, only the richest 1% increased their share of stocks held. In the first quarter of 2020, the richest 1% held 51.7% of the shares. At the end of the second quarter of 2021, they held 53.8%, an increase of 2.1% which equates to a value of around $ 10 trillion.

Shareholder trends mirror those of wealth inequality and extend beyond the pandemic. Over the past two decades, the richest 1% of Americans have increased their share of stocks held while all other wealth segments have seen their share of stocks held decline.

Baby boomers own 55% of the shares, valued at $ 22 trillion; millennials own 2.5% of the shares

Baby Boomers own 55% of stocks, and those holdings are worth $ 22 trillion, more than double the percentage and value of stocks owned by Gen X and more than 25 times those held by Gen Y.

It’s no big surprise that baby boomers own a relatively large amount of stocks. They have had more time than Gen X and Millennials to build wealth on Wall Street and watch their investments grow.

As more baby boomers retire, their share of stocks has started to decline. In the last quarter of 2019, they held 55.9% of the shares. In the second quarter of 2021, they held 54.5%. This is also to be expected, as retirees often liquidate their stocks when they need cash.

The share of equities held by Gen X has increased over the past decade after a steep drop in the midst of the 2008 recession.

Millennials have experienced slower shareholder growth – however, the pace has started to pick up somewhat over the past year. In the first quarter of 2020, millennials held 1.8% of the shares. In the second quarter of 2021, they held 2.5%, reaching the $ 1 trillion mark in value.

Young Americans have an appetite for stocks – Millennials and Gen Z are more invested in the stock market than other financial assets, including cryptocurrency.

They are also eager to buy more individual stocks – 25% of these generations are invested in 5-10 stocks and a majority think a strong portfolio should include 10 or more stocks.

The percentage of stocks owned by millennials is expected to continue to rise as they enter their prime income years.

White Americans own 90% of the stock, worth $ 36.15 trillion

Ownership of the shares is dramatically split along racial lines, with white Americans owning 89.5% of the shares, with a total value of $ 36.15 trillion.

The share of stocks held by white Americans has declined over the past 20 years – white Americans owned 96.2% of the stock in 1989 – but the distribution of stock ownership by race falls far short of reflecting the racial distribution of the stock. American population.

The share of equities held by black Americans has not changed much over the past 20 years, and the share of equities held by Hispanics has actually declined.

Since 1990, the share of shares held by black Americans has not exceeded 1.6%. Before and during the 2008 recession, black Americans owned less than 1% of the shares. In the second quarter of 2021, they held 1.1% of the shares, worth $ 450 billion.

Hispanics have seen share ownership decline since 2016, when they held around 1.8% of the shares. By the second quarter of 2021, this share had fallen to 0.4%.

Meanwhile, the share of stocks held by non-black, non-Hispanic, and non-white Americans rose from around 3% in 2005 to 8.9% in the second quarter of 2021. The value of stocks held by this segment increased about 10 times over this period, from about $ 300 billion in 2005 to over $ 3 trillion in 2021.

The value of stocks held by white households is also more than three times the value of stocks held by black and Hispanic households.

In 2019, the median value of stocks held by white households was $ 50,750. The median value of stocks held by black and Hispanic households was $ 15,000.

Buy and keep

It is encouraging that 56% of American adults own stocks and we hope to see future growth in share ownership, especially among Hispanic and black households.

There’s a data-driven idea that should encourage the 44% of Americans who don’t own stocks to become investors: The S&P 500, on average, offers an 8-9% annual return, and some portfolios outperform the S&P 500. Individual investors can take advantage of these returns by buying individual stocks, investing in mutual funds or an index fund, or contributing to a retirement plan that invests money in the market.

Investors are more likely to get positive returns if they hold onto their investments – The Motley Fool recommends holding them for at least five years, even in the face of market volatility.

And while starting to invest may seem daunting, investing just a small amount each month and holding for the long term can generate huge financial rewards in the long run.

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