As our country continues to move past the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic, there are still supply chain issues that need to be fixed. Lack of financial literacy makes it hard for many people. The American Dream is at risk due to the lack of knowledge. The private sector has an opportunity to help address this by increasing access to financial education for employees, families, customers and communities.
There is a need for this type of work. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, only a third of Americans understand interest rates, mortgage rates and financial risk. Over the past 10 years, this measure of financial literacy has fallen. The gap is expected to cost Americans more than $415 billion in 2020.
Americans at home and in the workplace are affected by the lack of financial capability. Stress over money has been linked to a number of health issues. These life threatening conditions can lead to expensive medical treatments which can cause more financial stress and worry. The second leading cause of divorce is financial problems. Almost all of the employees admit to spending time working on or worrying about finances at work. Four out of five workers admit to being financially stressed, and stress related illnesses cost employers $300 billion a year.
Black America is particularly affected by these challenges. More than half of Black Americans have a credit score of less than 700, which makes them unable to participate in free enterprise America. Black Americans report living paycheck-to-paycheck at a higher rate than Americans as a whole. Blacks own less of their homes than whites. Only 3.5% of small businesses are owned by blacks.
These are more than just numbers. Tens of millions of parents, seniors and young people endure financial stress, personal hardship and strained relationships as they struggle to save, borrow and invest in ways that provide greater financial stability, flexibility and security.
Financial Literacy for All is an inclusive, business led movement aimed at helping more Americans reap the benefits of making more informed financial decisions. We plan to empower low- and middle-income individuals and families of every background, every walk of life and every community. The creative brilliance of our partners will be used to generate excitement and awareness around financial literacy, grow workplace wellbeing for working adults, and support initiatives to deliver basic financial education to every school district in the country. Given the wealth gap faced by Black and Hispanic households, we will make sure our efforts are relevant.
The leaders of The Walt Disney Company, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Delta Air Lines, and many other financial institutions have joined the Financial Literacy for All movement.
Financial literacy can be inclusive, creative, flexible and focused on results, and we think our coalition's diversity will help us make meaningful progress to that goal. Disney is known for its ability to engage and entertain people. The NBA and the National Football League know how to get people to watch their games. The goal of the operation is to equip people with the financial tools to build a better future. Walmart serves more than 137 million customers a week across the US and has more than 4,700 stores. The member organizations will do more for their employees.
Our purpose and values make us passionate about improving financial education. Walmart was founded in the 60s to help people save money so they could live better. Operation HOPE has been trying to make free enterprise work for everyone. This new endeavor is a continuation of what our organizations have been doing for a long time.
Efforts like these can help. Some clients have been helped raise their credit scores by 54 points in six months, and more than 100 points over 24 months, thanks to the financial coaching and education provided by Operation Hope. Helping strivers go from being renters to homeowners can be done in a number of different ways.
The financial challenges faced by millions of American households can't be solved solely by financial training. Barriers to education, Vocational training, financial services and job opportunities are just some of the factors that are holding people back. Many people in the private sector are making progress.
Millions of families could be helped by better, more accessible financial education and financial literacy. This and similar work is done across the nation. Raising GDP through enhanced financial intelligence creates more sustainable opportunity for the nation. More societal health is achieved by less stressed out citizens and workers. The challenge we have set for ourselves is that they can be achieved. Business leaders are urged to join this movement.
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