Only about half of Americans have money invested in the stock market, according to a recent Gallup survey.

The most glaring difference is between the richest Americans, who are really feeling the boom. Among people whose income is at least $100,000 per year, stock ownership is at 89 percent. In fact, the richest 20 percent of Americans owned 92 percent of all stocks in 2013.

Adults aged 65 and older have a higher rate of stock ownership: 54 percent of those individuals own stocks, an increase of 1 percent from the previous eight years.

Meanwhile, stock ownership is just 21 percent among people whose income is less than $30,000 a year. Not surprising, when you consider the fact that anyone making $30K or less probably doesn’t have the disposable income to invest in stocks. Most likely, they also have employers who don’t offer 401(k) or other retirement plans.

“If you’re a coal miner in West Virginia without a 401(k) or stock market exposure, you don’t care about all-time highs,” Andres Garcia-Amaya, Global Market Strategist at wealth management firm Zoe Financial, told CNN Money. “It’s easy for us sitting in New York to look at the market and say everyone is doing well. The reality is that a huge portion of the population is not participating in this.”

And that lack of stock ownership skews very much toward younger workers.

According to Gallup, just 31 percent of people ages 18 to 29 owned stocks on average between 2009 and 2017, down from 42 percent during the previous eight years.

Compare that to Americans between 30 and 64: nearly two-thirds of that age group own stocks, which is still down almost nine percent from 2001 through 2008 rates.

People aged 65 and older actually have increased their level of stock exposure by 1 percent; 54 percent of Baby Boomers own stocks.

Some analysts attribute Millennials’ lack of stock ownership to the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

“Some younger Americans may look at what happened in 2008 and conclude, ‘This isn’t for me. It’s too risky,’” said David Joy, Chief Marketing Strategist at Ameriprise Financial.

According to the Gallup poll, it seems that the financial crisis and recession may have fundamentally changed Americans’ attitudes toward stock ownership as a safe retirement vehicle.

Although stock investment is definitely a “long game,” and it’s better not to panic at downward trends in stock prices because they will inevitably recover, it’s still hard to find a rationale for stock ownership when a lack of income and scars from the recent Great Recession contribute to beliefs that it’s simply not a safe way to save for retirement.

Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of lower-income and younger Americans out of the market, missing out on the continual bull market.

Photo: Tutti Frutti /