U.S. says bankruptcies up 11%, near 5-year high

By Ameet Sachdev
Posted Aug. 18, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.

U.S. bankruptcy filings have reached the highest level since 2005, government data show, as the economy slows and the unemployment rate hovers just below double digits.

Bankruptcy filings in Illinois rose 18 percent in the quarter ended in June. There were 21,691 bankruptcy filings between April and June, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, up from 18,311 a year earlier.

Consumer bankruptcies rose 19 percent to 21,094, and business bankruptcies rose 4 percent to 597.

For the year ended June 30, there were 1.57 million bankruptcies, up 20 percent from 1.31 million a year earlier. Consumer bankruptcies rose 21 percent to 1.51 million, and business bankruptcies rose 9 percent to 59,608.

Quarterly filings surpassed 400,000 for the first time since a record 667,431 bankruptcies were begun in the fourth quarter of 2005, when Congress overhauled federal bankruptcy laws and made it harder for people and businesses to file.

“We know the causes of bankruptcy are principally job losses and health care, with the overlay of the foreclosure crisis,” said Deborah Thorne, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio University. “It feels very unsettled, and I’m not surprised the numbers are going up. Until we get our feet on the ground, provide decent-paying jobs, and do something with the housing crisis, bankruptcies will continue to go up.”

According to her Web site, Thorne has co-authored several publications with Elizabeth Warren, a candidate to run the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve said high unemployment, reflected in July’s 9.5 percent rate, as well as modest income growth, falling home prices and tight credit amid a contraction in bank lending were factors contributing to a slowdown in economic growth.

Nevada had the highest rate of filings on a per capita basis in the last year, with 11.74 per 1,000 people, while Alaska had the fewest, with just 1.58 per 1,000.

Among the most populous states, California ranked 7th in per capita filings, while Texas was 48th, New York 41st and Florida 15th.

For the 12 months ended in June, bankruptcy filings in Illinois rose 25 percent, to 81,403, from the same period a year ago.

With reporting from Reuters.


One comment:

  1. tom0942 Aug. 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Hope and change.

    Folks, next time vote for the grown-up on the ballot.