Consumer Bankruptcies Increased 9% in 2010

New data shows that U.S. consumer bankruptcies increased 9 percent nationwide in 2010 from the previous year according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

Data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC) showed that the overall consumer filing total for the 2010 calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2010) reached 1,530,078 compared to the 1,407,788 total consumer filings recorded during 2009. Annual consumer filings have increased each year since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Prevention Act was enacted in 2005.

“The steady climb of consumer filings notwithstanding the 2005 bankruptcy law restrictions demonstrate that families continue to turn to bankruptcy as a result of high debt burdens and stagnant income growth,” said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “We expect that consumer filings will continue to rise in 2011.”

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NBKRC’s data also showed that the 118,146 consumer filings recorded in December 2010 represented a 4 percent increase from the 113,274 filings in December 2009. The December 2010 consumer filings also represented a 3 percent increase from the November 2010 total of 114,587. Chapter 13 filings constituted 30 percent of all consumer cases in December, a slight increase from November.

A study released earlier this year found that Americans aged 65 and older are filling for bankruptcy more than any other demographic according to a recent study by John Pottow, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.  The study showed the number filers age 65 and over doubled from 2.1% in 1991 to 4.5% in 2001.  The trend continued in 2007, as the proportion of filers in this age group rose further to 7.0%.

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