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NBKRC Quarterly Bankruptcy Filings Report (April 2013)

Filings for April 2013 were down sharply from the March high (to 94,000 from 105,000 last month). That drop reinforces the downward trend in filings that has been building for several months. For example, April filings are down seven percent from last April and filings for the first four months of 2013 are down thirteen percent from last year.

Total filings this year are at a rate of about 1500 per million adults (one for every 700 adults). Against that norm, five States stand out with remarkably high rates, more than 50% above the national average. Tennessee remains by far the highest (at 2900, almost twice the national average); it is followed, in order, by Georgia, Utah, Alabama, and Illinois (with 2600, 2500, 2440, and 2410 filings per million adults, respectively). Interestingly, as the high filing rates of the recession recede, the pattern of high rates is spreading out of the Southeast and Pacific Southwest where it has been concentrated for much of the last two years.

One interesting way to see the same point is to examine the filing rates in the Nation’s largest urban centers. The table below displays the filing rates (per million adults) in the first four months of 2013 for the Nation’s twelve largest counties – those with more than 1.5 million adults. Within that group, Chicago stands out with by far the highest filing rate, substantially more than twice the national average. Miami and Riverside County (on the east side of Los Angeles) come next, at about 2600 filings per million adults. They are followed in turn by a group of five large counties with filings approximating the national average: Los Angeles, Maricopa County in Arizona (which includes the city of Phoenix), Orange County (also near Los Angeles), King County in Washington State (which includes Seattle), and San Diego. At the bottom of the table, by contrast, are the two largest counties in New York City and in Texas. Brooklyn has the lowest rate of all (only 500 filings per million adults so far this year), about one-third of the national average.

COUNTYYear-To-Date 2013 Filings (Per Million Adults)
Cook (Chicago, Illinois)3236
Riverside (L.A., California)2622
Miami-Dade (Florida)2608
Los Angeles (California)1854
Maricopa (Phoenix, Arizona)1694
Orange (L.A., California)1671
King (Seattle, Washington)1376
San Diego (California)1304
Dallas (Texas)1030
Queens (New York)700
Harris (Houston, Texas)638
Kings (Brooklyn, New York)518

This analysis was performed on data collected by the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC) by NBKRC contributor Professor Ronald Mann of the Columbia Law School.