How the stock market impacts Americans’ perception of the economy

February 15, 2021, 5:00 PM UTC

Americans do not believe the stock market does a good job representing the nation’s economic health, according to the latest Economist/YouGov poll. Just 17% of those who own stock believe the stock market does a good or very good job at this.  

The stock market, of course, has been in the news recently, as some Reddit forum members bought GameStop shares to counteract hedge funds that had bet on the retailer losing money. Shares rose 1500%, but have since returned closer to the starting price, though they remain higher than where they began. In this week’s poll, 84% of the public had heard something about this, with more than a third claiming they had heard a lot (39%) of news about the widespread purchases. Nearly everyone who owns stock had heard the story; more than half in this group had heard a lot about it. 

But while Americans may have issues with the stock market, it matters to many Americans. Two in five (42%) say it matters some (28%) or a lot (16%) to their personal finances. It is of particular importance to those whose family incomes exceed $100,000 a year (73%), but nearly a third of those whose incomes are less than $50,000 (31%) agree. Most older Americans also agree (57%). 

Nearly three-quarters of those who own stock (73%), as well as one in five of those who do not own stocks (22%), say the market matters to their finances. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll 

MethodologyThe Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between February 6 - 9, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.0% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty