A smaller percentage of Americans now have a stake in the stock market than at any point since May 2000, Gallup announced on Thursday.
The research polling center, which has been monitoring stock ownership since 1999, reported that only 54 percent of Americans said they own "individual stock, a stock mutual fund or in a self-directed 401(k) or IRA." The percentage invested has steadily declined from 65 percent in 2007, when the financial crisis first brought the U.S. economy to its knees.
That general drop in stock market investment correlates closely with Gallup's additional finding that Americans now trust stocks much less than real estate as a long-term investment, despite currently surging stock prices and the total collapse of the housing industry. Of Americans polled, 33 percent believe real estate to be "the best long-term investment," while 24 percent chose savings accounts, 24 percent chose stocks or mutual funds and 12 percent chose bonds.
After stumbling last year, the percentage of Americans that place investment faith in real estate has climbed back to the level it held two years ago. Faith in saving accounts, in comparison, has dwindled to 24 percent from 34 percent over the same two-year period, perhaps due to inflationary concerns over rising food and gas prices.
Who does play the stock market has become intensely stratified, too, as 87 percent of Americans making over $75,000 own stocks. Republicans, men and postgraduates are also much more likely to hold stocks or mutual funds than Democrats, women and less-educated people, respectively.
Since Gallup first started tracking stock market stakes, the highest point was reached between June 28-30, 2002, when 67 percent of those polled reported have a stock market investment.