Total bankruptcy filings in 2019 registered the first year-over-year increase in eight years, according to analysis from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).
ABI officials reviewed data provided by Epiq Systems and found total bankruptcy filings during 2019 increased 0.28% from 2018. Total filings edged up to 757,497 cases in 2019 from 755,353 filings during 2018.
Officials said total consumer filings also increased to 718,553 in 2019, representing a 0.17% lift above the 717,321 total filings completed in 2018.
ABI also pointed out the 38,944 total commercial filings during 2019 marked an increase of 2.4% from the commercial filing total of 38,032 during 2018. The commercial Chapter 11 filing total of 5,502 in 2019 constituted a 0.36% uptick from the 5,482 commercial Chapter 11 filings a year earlier.
“Two developments in the coming year will improve access to the fresh start of bankruptcy for both struggling small businesses and households,” ABI executive director Amy Quackenboss said in a news release. “The Small Business Reorganization Act becomes effective next month to provide a better path for Main Street debtors to restructure their debts.
“Also, the courts, Congress and other stakeholders continue to consider the recommendations of ABI’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy to modernize the bankruptcy code for consumers wrestling with overwhelming debt loads,” Quackenboss continued.
Looking just at the closing month of 2019, officials reported total bankruptcy filings in December increased 2% to 53,030 from the 52,059 filings completed in December 2018. The 50,160 total noncommercial filings for December also represented a 2% increase from the December 2018 noncommercial filing total of 49,096.
ABI indicated the 2,870 total commercial filings in December marked a 3% decrease from the 2,963 total commercial filings during the same period in 2018. Commercial Chapter 11 filings dropped 14% to 391 in December from the 456 commercial Chapter 11 filings in December 2018.
Officials went on to mention the average nationwide per capita bankruptcy filing rate for 2019 ticked up slightly to 2.44 (total filings per 1,000 population) from the 2.43 rate generated in 2018.
States with the highest per capita filing rates (total filings per 1,000 population) through 2019 included:
1. Alabama (5.62)
2. Tennessee (5.29)
3. Georgia (4.38)
4. Mississippi (4.19)
5. Illinois (3.71)
ABI has partnered with Epiq Systems, a leading provider of managed technology for the global legal profession, in order to provide the most current bankruptcy filing data for analysts, researchers and members of the news media.