New York, April 6, 2011—Bankruptcy filings nationwide were down 6 percent in the first quarter, although the number of cases continued to remain stubbornly high in California, according to an analysis by Columbia Law School Professor Ronald Mann.
The first three months of this year saw declines in bankruptcy filings compared to 2010. Before then, in contrast, for four straight years, every month’s filings were higher for the same month in the previous year, Mann said.
“We’re finally in a position to say that the worst is behind us,” said Mann, who compiled the numbers for the National Bankruptcy Research Center.
In all, filings were down in 45 of 50 states, with the most notable decreases in Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, where filings were down 20 percent or more.
However, California’s filing rate in the first quarter was up 5 percent, and has jumped 30 percent since 2009. “More than one in six of the nation’s bankruptcy filings in the first quarter have come from there,” Mann said.
The other states that saw bankruptcy filing increases in the first quarter were Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, and Utah.
For March, bankruptcy filings were down compared to 2010, although the 145,000 filings nationwide was up from 103,000 in February, and was the highest number in 11 months. Still, the number represents a 3 percent drop from last March.
“March is usually the biggest month for filings, as people filing often use their tax refunds to pay filing costs and their lawyers,” Mann said.
Among urban areas in March, Shelby County, Tenn., which includes Memphis, had the highest filing rate of 1,760 per million adult inhabitants. It was followed by Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California; Clark County, which includes Las Vegas; and Adams County outside Denver.
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