Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bankruptcy filings fall 7.7 percent in 2011

Bankruptcy filings in Colorado fell 7.7 percent in Colorado, falling from 32,509 during 2010 to 29,994 filings during 2011. According to new bankruptcy filing data, released yesterday by the U.S. District Court, from 2009 to 2010, filings increased 16 percent. 2011's bankruptcy total is the lowest annual total recorded since 2009 when filings totaled 27,997. 2011 also showed the largest annual drop since 2006.

In Colorado during December, total bankruptcy cases filed fell 11.9 percent, year over year, to 2,033 filings. During December 2010, 2,308 cases were filed. December 2011 was the eleventh month in a row in which bankruptcies declined year over year.

The first graph shows the year-over-year changes in bankruptcy case filings since January 2007:

The appearance of sustained declines in the year-over-year comparisons reinforces the likelihood that consumers are beginning to get a handle on debts now that almost four years have passed since the beginning of the national 2007-2009 recession.

In general, however, bankruptcy filings have grown since 2006 following the implementation of the 2005 Bankruptcy Act (discussed here). Bankruptcy filings totaled more than 43,000 during 2005.

The large spike in 2005 preceded the implementation of the new bankruptcy rules. Filings totals have now returned to the levels experienced just prior to the final run-up in cases in 2005, but are down from 2010, when bankruptcy cases appear to have reached a post-2006 peak.

Recent monthly bankruptcy totals are now on a level similar to what was experienced during much of 2003, during a non-recessionary period. Bankruptcies decreased from November to December, falling 7.4 percent. This drop appears to be due to seasonal factors.

Note: April tends to be a peak month for bankruptcy filings as people use their tax refunds to pay for bankruptcy attorneys and filing costs.