What Is the Russell 3000 Index?

Russell 3000 Index Explained in Less Than 5 Minutes

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The Russell 3000 Index is an index created by FTSE Russell that tracks the largest 3,000 U.S. companies. It represents 97% of the investable U.S. equity market.

Keep reading to learn how the Russell 3000 Index works, its limitations, and how it’s different from other indexes.

Definition and Examples of the Russell 3000 Index

The Russell 3000 Index is a stock index that measures the performance of the 3,000 largest U.S.-traded stocks. The companies indexed represent 97% of the investable U.S. stock market and the index is rebuilt annually to account for new and growing equities.

The total market capitalization of the Russell 3000 Index was $47.7 trillion in 2021—a 51.9% increase from $31.4 trillion in 2020.

Popular companies listed on Russell 3000 Index include Amazon, Apple, Meta (Class A stock), Microsoft, and Tesla.

How the Russell 3000 Index Works

Introduced in 1984, the Russell 3000 Index tracks the current and historical market performance of large-, mid-, small-, and micro-cap companies. Since it tracks U.S. companies, the index can be used as a performance benchmark for the overall domestic economy.

The Russell 3000 Index is a subset of the larger Russell 3000E index—an index of the largest 4,000 U.S. companies. Within the Russell 3000 Index, there are also subsets, including the Russell 2000 and Russell 1000:

  • Russell 2000: The 2,000 smallest companies listed in the Russell 3000—often used to track the performance of small-cap companies.
  • Russell 1000: The largest 1,000 companies in the Russell 3000—often used to track the large-cap U.S. companies.

The FTSE Russell uses objective criteria to accurately measure performance and economic risks. To begin, all securities must be tradable on the following U.S. exchanges: CBOE, NYSE, NYSE American, NASDAQ, or ARCA. Certain company structures are restricted from inclusion, such as SPACs, limited liability companies, royalty trusts, and business development companies.

Companies that meet the “N Share” definition are not eligible for inclusion in the index. N shares are companies controlled by mainland Chinese companies but are incorporated outside China and traded on the NYSE or NASDAQ exchange.

Other qualifying criteria to be considered for inclusion in the index include (but are not limited to) closing price, total market capitalization, and available shares.

  • Closing price: Security closing prices must be at or above $1 on the day the index ranks companies. If it is less than $1, the average daily closing price during the last 30 days must be equal to or higher than $1.
  • Total market capitalization: Companies must have a total market capitalization of $30 million or above to be considered for inclusion.
  • Available shares: Companies must have at least 5% of their shares available in the marketplace.

Russell Reconstitution

Russell US indexes are updated annually to keep pace with the ever-changing U.S. equity market. This process of rebuilding the Russell indexes is called reconstitution. The FTSE announces the specific date in May that the reconstitution will occur. Eligible securities are ranked against the criteria mentioned above. There may be deletions of companies that made it the previous year and there may be new additions.

IPOs may be added each quarter as a way to reflect market changes that occur between each annual reconstitution period.

Russell 3000 vs. S&P 500

The Russell 3000 and S&P 500 are considerably different in the number of stocks they include, the market cap of companies they include, and their methodology for including companies.

Russell 3000 S&P 500
Introduced in 1984 Introduced in its current form in 1957
Tracks performance of the largest 3,000 U.S. companies Indexes the 500 publicly traded large-cap U.S. equities
Tracks small-, medium-, and large-cap securities Tracks primarily large-cap U.S. equities
Uses a rules-based methodology that considers total market capitalization, investability, liquidity, and more. Inclusion is determined by a committee of full-time professional members that meet monthly and may establish or revise rules for selecting companies.
Reconstituted annually in May Rebalanced quarterly (March, June, September, December)
Does not require companies to meet profitability requirements for inclusion Companies must meet profitability requirements to be considered for inclusion

Limitations of the Russell 3000 Index

The criteria for ranking in the Russell 3000 considers closing price, total market capitalization, available shares, and more. However, it does not have a profitability requirement the same way other indexes, like the S&P 500 does. In fact, some companies within the Russell 3000 are not profitable in the past four consecutive quarters. Investors should be mindful of this when assessing the companies indexed in the Russell 3000.

What It Means for Individual Investors

The Russell 3000 Index is not as widely known as other types of indexes. Ted Parchman, principal at Truepoint Wealth Counsel, told The Balance in an email that he encourages more investors to reference the Russell 3000.

“In reality, I would love to have everyone focused on the Russell 3000 as opposed to the S&P 500 or the Dow because it is a more complete (but not comprehensive) U.S. market index,” Parchman said. “The challenge is that even if I reference this with my clients, they are still going to anchor to the S&P 500 and the Dow because this is what they see on the news every day.”

Parchman explained that the Russell 3000 is a better indicator because the index is larger and more diverse.

“In total, there are more than 4,000 stocks traded in the U.S,” he said. “The Dow only tracks 30 large companies...and the S&P 500 index only tracks 500 of the largest companies. Both indexes completely ignore many small and mid-size companies.”

Key Takeaways

  • The Russell 3000 is an index that tracks the performance of the largest 3,000 U.S. companies. It represents 97% of the investable U.S. equity market.
  • The Russell 3000 Index is a subset of the Russell 3000E.
  • Within the Russell 3000, there are also the Russell 1000 and Russell 2000. These are the largest 1,000 and smallest 2,000 companies, respectively, within the Russell 3000.
  • To be considered for inclusion in the Russell 3000, companies must meet several criteria, including closing price, total market capitalization, and available shares requirements.
  • The Russell reconstitution is an annual process by which the index is completely rebuilt to reflect the ever-changing U.S. equities market.