January 19, 2022

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Bankruptcy Filings Fall Sharply for Second Straight Quarter

13 min read
<div>Despite continued high unemployment related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, personal and business bankruptcy filings fell 21.1 percent for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.</div>

Despite continued high unemployment related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, personal and business bankruptcy filings fell 21.1 percent for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Annual bankruptcy filings totaled 612,561, compared with 776,674 cases in the year ending Sept. 30, 2019.

Bankruptcy filings also fell 11.8 percent 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.

Bankruptcy filings tend to escalate gradually after an economic downturn begins. Following the Great Recession, which began in 2007, new filings escalated over a two-year period until they peaked in 2010.

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. 

The following tables are available:

  • Business and non-business bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020 (Table F-2, 12-month);
  • Twelve-month data for years ending September 2019 and September 2020 (Table F);
  • Filings for quarter, (Table F-2, 3-month); and filings by month (Table F-2, July, August, and September);
  • Bankruptcy filings by county (Report F-5A).
Business and Non-Business Filings,
Years Ending
September 30, 2016-2020
Year Business Non-Business Total
2020 22,391 590,170 612,561
2019 22,910 753,764 776,674
2018 22,103 751,272 773,375
2017 23,109 767,721 790,830
2016 24,457 781,123 805,580
Total Bankruptcy Filings By Chapter,
Years Ending
September 30, 2016-2020
Year Chapter
  7 11 12 13
2020 412,369 7,981 571 191,396
2019 482,831 7,105 580 286,027
2018 477,248 7,014 468 288,550
2017 486,542 7,052 508 296,599
2016 498,367 7,450 458 299,150

For more on bankruptcy and its chapters, view the following resources:

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