While experts debate what’s ahead for the U.S. economy, a major issue that’s often overlooked continues to pose a threat – personal financial health. It’s critical for all Americans to be equipped with the knowledge to make sound financial decisions.

As we draw attention to this issue through Financial Literacy Month this April, some alarming stats stand out:

  • Some 40 million Americans – or 16 percent of adults – say they will miss at least one credit-card due date in 2019.
  • Student loan debt has grown to $1.46 trillion, up nearly $80 billion in the past year.
  • Two-thirds of millennials have saved nothing for retirement, and only slightly more than a third are participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
  • Less than half of Americans can pass a test on basic financial issues, and Americans on average are estimated to have lost over $1,200 last year because of their lack of financial knowledge.

Let’s be clear. The U.S. economy remains strong. Unemployment is low, and while economic growth is slowing, consumer and business indicators are positive.

Financial literacy, though, is a persistent issue that’s keeping many Americans from realizing the full benefits of this favorable economic environment. It also holds back communities from reaching their full potential. These personal financial issues can quickly become bigger problems for local and national economic growth.

When credit card debt rises, consumers have less money to spend at local restaurants and shops. When someone defaults on a car loan, it affects a small business because that employee can’t get to and from work. When a recent graduate has massive student loans to pay, they have a harder time putting a down payment on their first home. In fact, home ownership rates for millennials are lower than previous generations, because of rising student loan debt.

Read the rest of Frank Sorrentino’s article at Forbes