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Personal bankruptcies fall in 2011 to one out of 175 Americans

January 05, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • A vault in an abandoned bank on Spring Street in Los Angeles.
A vault in an abandoned bank on Spring Street in Los Angeles. (Perry C. Riddle / Los Angeles…)

Fewer Americans filed for personal bankruptcy last year, though experts said that might change in 2012.

Filings fell 12% in 2011 as 1.35 million Americans entered Chapter 7 or 13, according to an analysis for the National Bankruptcy Research Center by Columbia Law School professor Ronald Mann.

That’s down from more than 1.5 million filings in 2010, or about one out of every 150 people. In 2011, the ratio was one out of every 175 Americans. Chapter 7 liquidation filings were down 17% compared with 2010's figures, while Chapter 13 rehabilitation filings declined 25%.

It’s the first drop since 2006 -- but Mann said filings began increasing again in November and December and could portend yet another rise this year.

The situation in California is disappointing, with one in 120 residents filing for bankruptcy last year. San Bernardino and Riverside counties are among the top five in the country for personal bankruptcies.

Nevada has the highest rate -- one in every 88 residents, or twice the national average even after falling 20% from 2010. Texas’ rate, by comparison, is one in 379 residents, while New York’s is one in every 319 people.

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