Alexandria, Va. — The 5% year-over-year increase in January marked the first time U.S. bankruptcy filings registered back-to-back monthly gains since 2010, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI). December 2016 filing also recorded a 5% gain from the prior-year period.
U.S. bankruptcy filing totaled 55,212 in January, with consumer filings increasing 5% from a year ago to 52,421. Commercial filings decreased 1% from a year ago to 2,791, while chapter 11 commercial filings fell 19% to 494.
“While bankruptcies plunged last year to their lowest levels since the implementation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, filings are beginning to climb," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “As interest rates increase and the cost of borrowing rises, more debt-burdened consumers and businesses may seek the financial shelter of bankruptcy.”
The legislative act Gerdano referenced was designed to make it more difficult for debtors to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, under which most debts are discharged. Instead, the law requires them to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy, under which debtors must repay a portion of their debts before they’re discharged.
On a month-over-month basis, total U.S. bankruptcies decreased 2% from December 2016’s 56.414 total, according to ABI. Total noncommercial and commercial filings were also down 2% and 5% from December 2016, respectively, while commercial chapter 11 filings were down 18% from the previous month.
The average nationwide per capita bankruptcy-filing rate in January 2017 was 2.13 (total filings per 1,000 per population), a decrease from December 2016’s rate of 2.48. Average total filings per day in January 2017 were 2,629, a 5% decrease from the 2,766 total daily filings recorded in January 2016 (due to 21 filing days during the month in 2017 versus 19 filing days in January 2016).
States with the highest per capita filing rates (total filings per 1,000 population) in January 2017 were: