ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/6/11)--U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings dropped 8% during the first six months of 2011 from the same period a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) using data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center. From Jan. 1 through June 30, personal bankruptcy filings totaled 709,303 nationwide, compared with the 770,117 filings for the period in 2010. The overall June consumer filing total was 119,768, which represented a 5% decrease from 126,270 bankruptcies filed in June 2010, but also was a 4% increase from May's filings of 114,803 filings. "The drop in bankruptcies for the first half of the year shows the continued efforts of consumers to reduce their household debt, and the overall pull back into consumer credit," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. The decline in bankruptcies dovetails with the economic forecast that Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economists issued in March in their 2011-2012 forecast for credit unions, as well as figures collected in 2010 related to loan delinquency and chargeoffs for CUNA's U.S. Credit Union Profile. Although these cannot be compared specifically with bankruptcy statistics, loan delinquencies and chargeoffs are often an early sign of financial trouble. Delinquencies and chargeoffs in mortgage-related loans are even a better indication of trouble leading to a possible bankruptcy. In December of 2010, credit unions experienced mortgage delinquencies of more than 60 days at 2.3% of total outstanding loans for first mortgages and 1.55% for home equity lines of credit and second mortgages. Net chargeoffs were at 0.42% of average outstanding loans for first mortgages and 1.40% for HELOCs and second mortgages. CUNA's economic forecast indicates that "credit quality will improve in 2011 and 2012. Overall loan delinquency and chargeoff rates will fall as job growth picks up. Provisions for loan losses will also decline as credit unions shift from building their allowance for loan loss accounts to maintaining the current level." The forecast expects a delinquency rate of 0.90% in 2011 and 0.80% in 2012, and an annualized net chargeoff rate of 0.90% and 0.80%, respectively. For more information check the U.S. Credit Union Profile resource link. According to The Wall Street Journal (July 5), the declines are a positive indication that a flood of consumer filings has slowed. In 2010 more than 1.5 million personal bankruptcies were filed, the largest number since Congress reformed the bankruptcy system in 2005 to make it more difficult for consumers to walk away from debts.