National bankruptcy filings continue decline despite COVID unemployment

Despite continued high unemployment related to the coronavirus pandemic, personal and business bankruptcy filings in the United States continued a sharp decline for the second straight quarter.

Personal and business bankruptcy filings fell 21.1% for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The courts reported a total of 612,561 annual bankruptcy filings, compared with 776,674 filings the previous year.

“Bankruptcy filings also fell 11.8(%) for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020. The final three months of that period coincided with the first wave of COVID-19 in the United States, as well as a spike in unemployment claims,” the federal courts said in an Oct. 29 news release.

Bankruptcy filings tend to escalate gradually after an economic downturn begins, according to the courts. Some filing activity also may have been affected by pandemic-related disruptions to bankruptcy courts, many of which have had limited public building access since mid-March.

In Indiana, bankruptcy lawyers are expecting a coming surge of pandemic-related cases, though that surge may still be a few months off.

In the Northern District of Indiana, 7,541 bankruptcy cases were filed during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020, a 16.1% decline compared to 8,984 filings in 2019.

The Southern District of Indiana also saw a decline in filings, with 11,465 bankruptcy cases filed during the period ending Sept. 30 of this year compared to 14,172 filings last year. That represents a 19.1% decline.

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