Thanks Barack. Personal bankruptcies rose by more than one-third in 2009.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
The number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy rose by nearly a third in 2009, a surge largely driven by foreclosures and job losses.
And more people are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which liquidates assets to pay off some debts and absolves the filers of others. That is significant because a 2005 overhaul of federal bankruptcy laws aimed to encourage Chapter 13 filings, which force consumers to sign onto debt-repayment plans in exchange for keeping certain assets.
The changes were designed to make it more difficult for people to shed their debt, particularly in a Chapter 7 filling. A “means” test, for example, was introduced to separate those who could afford to repay their debt from those who couldn’t. A Chapter 7 filing is off the table if the means test determines a person is able to pay back at least a portion of the debt after it is restructured.
The worst U.S. recession in a generation is testing the effectiveness of these laws. The economic downturn also has prompted more middle-class Americans to file for bankruptcy protection.
Overall, personal bankruptcy filings hit 1.41 million last year, up 32% from 2008, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, which compiles and analyzes bankruptcy data. It is the highest level of consumer-bankruptcy fillings since 2005. Consumers rushed to file in 2005 before the new bankruptcy laws took effect in October of that year.
Chapter 7 filings were up more than 42% as of November 2009, compared with the same period a year earlier.