Ownership of mutual funds in U.S. households made eye-popping gains every year between 1980, when it was a mere 6%, to 2001, when it reached 48%, but it has hovered around that range for the past six years.

But automatic enrollment could significantly change that by drawing households with less income into the mutual fund ownership arena, Investment Company Institute Chief Economist Brian Ried tells the Associated Press.

“We have kind of maxed out—temporarily—the households that could potentially invest” in mutual funds, Ried said. Households that have income of between $25,000 and $35,000 account for only 6% of fund ownership but are 12% of the population, he noted.

Although only a small percentage of employers have turned to automatic 401(k) enrollment, more will continue to do so, and that will boost the numbers.

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