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U.S. bankruptcy rate declines in 4Q for sixth time
WASHINGTON (2/16/11)--Bankruptcies filed in the U.S. rose 8% during calendar year 2010, according to data released Tuesday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. However, the rate of growth of bankruptcies filed during fourth quarter 2010 declined for the sixth consecutive quarter for business filings and for the second quarter in personal filings. During fourth quarter, roughly 370,080 bankruptcies were filed, down from 372,203 filed for the same period in 2009. In 2010, 1.59 million bankruptcies were filed. That is a five-year high and up from 1.47 million filed in calendar year 2009. "These bankruptcy filing numbers roughly track credit union loan loss data," said Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). "Household financial conditions deteriorated dramatically from 2007 to the first part of 2010. Since then, conditions have stabilized with the result that although high, bankruptcy filings are at least beginning to recede," he said. "We have a way to go, and it will take quite a while to get there, but at least we are moving in the right direction," Hampel told News Now. Filings have increased steadily since 2006, when they totaled 617,000 for the first 12-month period after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 took effect. In 2005 more than 2 million bankruptcies were filed in the rush to beat the more restrictive requirements from the act. Most of the 2010 filings involve non-business debts, which totaled 1.536 million, up 9% from 1.4 million filed in 2009. Business filings totaled 56,282, down 7% from 60,837 in 2009. Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings totaled 1.139 million in 2010, with Chapter 13 the next highest, at 438,913 filings, followed by 13,713 under Chapter 11, and 723 under Chapter 12. The recession's end is finally bringing the expected improvement in consumer and business finances, said Moody's Economy.com. However, it cautioned that business and personal filings "are on different paths." Business bankruptcy filings have fallen for a year and a half, while personal filings have been slower to begin to drop. Business filings remain highly elevated by historic standard, above levels seen leading up to the bankruptcy reform legislation in 2005. "By contrast, the level of personal filings has only briefly returned to levels seen in the early part of the last decade and is slipping below them again. This is true despite high unemployment and high levels of defaults including credit card chargeoffs and foreclosures," Moody's said. For more detail, use the link.
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