US: Personal Bankruptcy Filings Soar

Consumer bankruptcies topped one million for the first nine months of this year, the highest point since the system was overhauled in 2005.

The number of personal bankruptcy filings for the nine months rose to 1,046,449 as of Sept. 30, the American Bankruptcy Institute, an organization made up of attorneys, accountants and other bankruptcy professionals, said Friday, using data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center. There were 773,810 personal bankruptcy filings for the same time period in 2008.

September’s filings reached 124,790, 41% higher than the same month last year.

The 2005 revamp was intended to make it harder for Americans to shed their debts by filing for bankruptcy. In that year, before the law took effect, there were 1.35 million bankruptcy filings in the first nine months.

But a tough economic climate has sent filings soaring again and ABI expects personal bankruptcies to exceed 1.4 million by the end of the year. “Bankruptcy filings continue to climb as consumers look to shelter themselves from the effects of rising unemployment rates and housing debt,” the institute’s Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano said.

Write to Sara Murray at

OCTOBER 2, 2009, 4:31 P.M. ET

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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