I get asked fairly often what is happening with Bankruptcy filing rates. Well, LexisNexis has just released some Nationwide numbers. Let’s start with an idea of what normal used to be.
According to a report I found on the Court Administrator’s web page, nationally there were 407,572 Bankruptcy cases filed in the first Quarter of 2004. So, that is about 135,800 cases a month. Of those cases, 28% of all of them were Chapter 13 filings. I’ve always heard that historically, about 30% of all consumer filings were Chapter 13’s, so 28% of all cases (including commercial cases) being 13’s looks pretty normal to me.
At the end of 2006, nationally we were filing about 55,000 cases a month. The most recent figures (April and May, 2007) are hovering right around 70,000 cases a month, and the current percentage of 13’s is continuing to decline. Very early after the new Act was passed, most cases filed were 13’s. As of the end of last year, 13’s accounted for about 40% of filings. They are now down to 35% of all filings. Those figures are national.
Oklahoma is running behind the trend. Nationally, filings are basically back to 50% of pre-reform levels. The Western District of Oklahoma isn’t there yet. We had fewer than 500 cases filed in May, 2007. There were just under 1,100 cases filed in May, 2004. I don’t actually know our 13 percentage under the old act. However, in May, 2007 130 of our 480+ cases were 13’s. That is a whopping 28%.
So, what does all this mean? Beats me. What I do know is that Bankruptcy isn’t dead. Most of my clients are getting essentially the same relief they were getting under the old Act, it just takes them more time and costs them more money; and the pre-filing credit counseling requirement is a waste of time and money.