February 2, 2009
Personal bankruptcies surged to more than 1 million filings in the United States in 2008 — the most since a rewrite of bankruptcy laws went into effect in 2005.
Filings of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies rose 33% in 2008 as the economy worsened, according to data from U.S. bankruptcy courts and compiled by bankruptcy data firm Automated Access to Court Electronic Records. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows people to pay off debts under a three- to five-year plan; Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for a discharge of all debts.
In 2007, there were 819,115 such filings in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. The number rose to 1,086,130 in 2008 as the recession took hold. That’s nowhere near the record of 2.1 million filings in 2005, as consumers rushed to file before a federal bankruptcy reform law went into effect and made filings more difficult and expensive, but it’s still a significant leap.