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Bankruptcy Filings Down in April

posted by Bob Lawless

2011 Projected Filings Thru April The postings have been a little light here the last few days as we all have been taking care of the onslaught of work (mainly grading) that accompanies the end of the semester. If you are curious about the rhythms of the academic world, I have often thought that you could learn a lot just by following the posting frequency here.

One of the things that fell off my desk was my monthly update on bankruptcy filing statistics. We are almost all the way through May, but on the theory that better is late than never, here are the numbers for April. As always, thanks to Epiq Systems for the data.

April had almost 130,000 total bankruptcy filings which, spread over the 21 business days in April, constituted a daily filing rate of 6,177. The daily filing rate for April was a 2.9% decline from March and a 7.1% year-over-year decline from April 2010. Each month in 2011 has seen between a 5.6% to 8.2% decline, which is right on track with projections for the calendar year.

Over the last twelve months, the U.S. bankruptcy filing rate has been 4.9 per 1,000 persons. In 2004, the filing rate was 5.5 per 1,000 persons. Thus, although total bankruptcy filings are not far off the levels from seven years ago, there have been declines on a population-adjusted basis.

Extrapolating the first four months of 2011 into a yearly projection results in the following for estimates of annual filings:

  • 1,475,000 filings if bankruptcy filings continue for the rest of the year at the same daily rate (5,876 per day) as they have averaged for the first four months of 2011
  • 1,525,000 filings if bankruptcy filings continue for the same daily rate (6,177 per day) as they have averaged for April 2011
  • 1,499,000 filings if bankruptcy filings for the remaining eight months of 2011 constitute the same proportion of total filings as the average for the last eight months of 2009 and 2010 constituted for total filings those years (about 67.4%)

As a point of comparison, there were 1,560,000 total bankruptcy petitions in 2010.


These statistics always sound encouraging, however, there can be a danger in thinking that this means there is a recovery of some sort. Often, it is just the simple fact that there is a time frame required for a debtor to wait before they can file bankruptcy again. It is often more murky than we try and make this out to be. As the maketing manager for a Denver Bankruptcy Attorney, I can assure you the interest in bankruptcy has not subsided since 2004, it has merely not been an option for a lot of the folks hoping to use this safety net over the last 5 years.

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  • As a public service, the University of Illinois College of Law operates Bankr-L, an e-mail list on which bankruptcy professionals can exchange information. Bankr-L is administered by one of the Credit Slips bloggers, Professor Robert M. Lawless of the University of Illinois. Although Bankr-L is a free service, membership is limited only to persons with a professional connection to the bankruptcy field (e.g., lawyer, accountant, academic, judge). To request a subscription on Bankr-L, click here to visit the page for the list and then click on the link for "Subscribe." After completing the information there, please also send an e-mail to Professor Lawless ([email protected]) with a short description of your professional connection to bankruptcy. A link to a URL with a professional bio or other identifying information would be great.