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Bankruptcy Filings Increase Fourth Straight Year

Calendar year 2010 saw personal bankruptcy filing rates rise to the highest level in five years, according to information collected by the American Bankruptcy Institute, an association of attorneys and other bankruptcy professionals. There were 1,530,078 personal bankruptcy cases filed during 2010, a 9% increase from 2009. While the total numbers of bankruptcy filings continue to climb, the 9% increase from 2009 is actually the lowest rate increase in the last four years.

Nationwide, 1 out of 150 people filed bankruptcy in 2010. Nevada, with its unemployment rate at 14%, has the highest per capital filing rate averaging 1 bankruptcy filer out of every 67 residents. After Nevada, Georgia and Tennessee have the highest filing rates per capita, about 50% more than the national average. Alaska, South Carolina, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont have the lowest filing rates.

A few states saw sharp increases in the number of personal bankruptcy filings. Hawaii experienced 29% more filings in 2010 over the previous year. California, Utah, and Arizona each had increases of 24%. The net increase in those states (about 62,000) was greater than the net increase in all other 46 states and the District of Columbia combined (around 60,000). The data indicates that while the southeastern states are filing bankruptcy cases at a slower pace, the southwest is experiencing further economic distress evidenced by its increased bankruptcy filing rates.

The raw bankruptcy data also shows a strong preference for Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Consumers filed Chapter 13 cases only 28% of the time during 2010. Information provided by the National Bankruptcy Research Center suggests that a higher percentage of Chapter 13 filings appears closely tied to high rates of auto loan delinquencies. Southeastern states have the highest percentage of auto loan delinquencies and corresponding high percentages of Chapter 13 filings.

If you are in financial trouble and need bankruptcy relief, you are not alone! The federal bankruptcy laws can help protect your income, assets, and retirement accounts, while stopping lawsuits, garnishments and repossessions. Speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and begin your path to a Fresh Start today!