According to the latest Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve, a record 58% of American households now own stocks. This marks an increase from 52.6% in 2019 and surpasses the previous high of 53.2% in 2007 before the Great Financial Crisis.
The survey, which is released every three years, revealed that the rise in stock ownership was primarily driven by direct ownership, meaning individuals held stocks without going through mutual funds or other accounts. Direct ownership saw the largest change on record, increasing from 15% in 2019 to 21% in 2022. The last time direct stock ownership reached this level was in 2001.
The average amount invested by households also saw an increase of 14% from 2019, reaching $489,490 in 2022 dollars. Additionally, the overall net worth of all families tracked by the survey rose by 37%.
The surge in stock ownership can be attributed to various factors, including the influx of federal stimulus checks during the pandemic and the popularity of trading apps like Robinhood. These developments encouraged individual investors to enter the market. The rise of meme stocks in 2021, such as Gamestop, AMC, and Bed, Bath & Beyond, further contributed to the increased interest in stock ownership.
It is worth noting that while more households are investing in stocks, the survey showed that new entrants into direct stock ownership held smaller portfolios compared to long-time stockholding families. Median stock holdings decreased by approximately half between 2019 and 2022, from $29,000 to $15,000.
Overall, the growing share of American families investing in the stock market reflects the changing landscape of personal finance and the increased accessibility of investing opportunities.