Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this second hearing on financial literacy. I thank the witnesses for appearing today. I look forward to your testimony as we continue this national dialogue on financial literacy.
In the wealthiest country in the world, we must increase the ability of citizens of all ages and backgrounds to manage their resources, participate in the workforce, make wise investments, and become better informed about public policy. All Americans need to have the necessary skills and information to prepare for a secure financial future.
The current economic recession highlights the importance of financial literacy. American families are now facing an enormous amount of financial stress. The Department of Labor reports that 7.9 million Americans were unemployed in January. These unemployment statistics do not include those whose hours and pay have been reduced. In Hawaii, bankruptcy filings for the third quarter of 2001 were twenty percent higher than in 2000.
It is obvious that financial stress is not solely caused by a lack of financial literacy. There are many factors that can cause financial difficulty, including the bankruptcy of an employer or a reduction in tourism due to the September 11th terrorist attacks. However, having or knowing how to acquire financial knowledge can prevent or reduce the consequences of a difficult financial situation. Increased education about basic economic concepts will help people to make better financial decisions and increase opportunities for participation in today's global economy.
Today's hearing will feature organizations on the front line of financial education. I look forward to your recommendations on how we can increase financial literacy.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for convening these hearings.