New York, Jan. 4, 2011—The number of personal bankruptcy filings jumped 9 percent last year to more than 1.5 million, the highest total since 2005, according to an analysis by Columbia Law School Professor Ronald Mann.
Nationwide, bankruptcy filings were about 6,600 per million individuals, meaning about one of every 150 Americans filed for bankruptcy protection. At the same time, however, the rate of the increase was more modest than the previous three years, which each saw annual increases in bankruptcy filings exceeding 30 percent.
The largest number of filings came from the Southwest and Southeast, Mann said, with Nevada—at 15,000 filings per million-- having by far the highest number of bankruptcies—twice as high as the national rate on a population-adjusted basis.
“The Nevada figure is high, but shouldn’t come as a surprise given that Nevada has the nation’s highest rates for unemployment and credit card and mortgage delinquency,” Mann said.
After Nevada, Georgia and Tennessee had the highest filing rates, each with more than 10,000 filings per million, about 50 percent higher than the national rate.
Mann also found some states experienced sharp filing increases last year, even in comparison to the elevated filing rates of 2009. Hawaii experienced a 29 percent jump compared to 2009, while the rates in Arizona, California, and Utah spiked 24 percent.
The increase in those four states was greater than the net increase in the other 46 states and the District of Columbia combined, Mann said.
In contrast, the Southeast, which also had a sharp increase in bankruptcies during the recession, saw a decline in filings, in such states as Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
“The Southeast is recovering rapidly, while the Southwest is falling into further distress,” Mann said. The states with the lowest filing rates are, in order, Alaska, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins its traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, national security, and environmental law.