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National Bankruptcy Research Center November 2012 Bankruptcy Filings Report

Continuing the fall trend, bankruptcy filings in November were essentially unchanged from October. Nominally, filings were down by 10% (from 96,000 in October to 86,000 in November), but because November filings typically are about 10% lower than October filings this suggests no substantial change. The continuing dropoff from 2011 filings is evident from a broader look at the data: filings in November were down 15% from last November, and filings for this year to date are down 14% from the first eleven months of last year.

Nationwide, there have been about 4600 filings per million adults so for this year, one for every 220 adults. Four states stand out with by far the highest filing rates: Tennessee and Georgia in the Southeast and Utah and Nevada in the Southwest, all about 70% above the national average, at more than 7000 filings per million adults. At the other side of the spectrum, six States have filings less than half the national average, led by Alaska, with only 1350 filings/million adults, and followed by the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Vermont, South Carolina, and Hawaii.

There is also considerable disparity in the rate at which overall filing rates are dropping. As mentioned above, filings nationwide are down 14%, but rates have fallen much more rapidly in the far West. The five States with the largest dropoff are Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, and California, all down by more than 22% from last year at this time. Nevada’s appearance as the State with the fourth highest filing rate (mentioned above) and at the same time by the biggest dropoff from last year underscores the startlingly high level of filings in Nevada during the crisis. For most of 2010 and 2011 filings rates were higher in Nevada than anywhere else in the Nation. The steep dropoff this year (especially in Chapter 13 filings associated with home mortgages) has finally pushed the states in the Southeast to the top of the filings list.

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.