National bankruptcy filings fall despite COVID-19 impact

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Personal and business bankruptcy filings posted a decline in the year ending June 30, despite a sharp rise in national unemployment stemming from the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Bankruptcy filings fell by 11.8% during the last statistical year, according to statistics released last week by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The courts reported a total of 682,363 annual bankruptcy filings, compared with 773,361 filings the previous year.

Business filings remained virtually identical to those reported in 2019, which was just one filing greater than this year’s count of 22,482. However, non-business bankruptcy filings fell by 12.1% to 659,881, compared with 750,878 this time last year.

“Bankruptcy filings tend to escalate gradually after an economic downturn starts. Following the Great Recession, new filings escalated over a two-year period until they peaked in 2010,” the federal courts said in a July 29 announcement. 

The courts likewise noted that some filing activity may have been affected by pandemic-related disruptions to bankruptcy courts, “many of which have limited public building access since mid-March.”

In the Northern District of Indiana, 8,223 bankruptcy cases were filed during the 12-month period ending June 30, a 6.5% decline compared to 8,804 filings in 2019.

In an even steeper drop, the Indiana Southern District saw 12,498 bankruptcy cases filed in 2020, compared to 14,173 filings last year. That equates to an 11.8% decline, tracking with the national average.

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