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Bankruptcy Statistics Nationwide

Bankruptcy is more common than you may think. According to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, in 2011 there were over 1.4 million bankruptcy filings nationwide. The vast majority of these — over 70 percent — were for liquidation under Chapter 7. Also surprisingly, individuals and other nonbusiness entities accounted for over 96 percent of filings. California had the highest number of bankruptcy filings with more than 240,000 across its four judicial districts. Florida had the second most with almost 95,000. Alaska had the least with fewer than 1,000.

Among the less common special chapters of the bankruptcy code, there were 13 municipal bankruptcy filings nationwide with four occurring in Nebraska. There were also 637 filings for family farm or fishery relief under Chapter 12. Thirty-six of these occurred in Massachusetts, the highest number nationwide. In 2009, the highest number of per capita bankruptcy filings occurred in Nevada with roughly one bankruptcy filing for every 100 members of the population. Among the states, the fewest per capita filings occurred in Alaska with just 1.43 filings for every 1,000 people.

So if you are distressed about the prospect of bankruptcy, you are not alone. Millions of people like you have declared bankruptcy and subsequently turned around their financial lives. And while bankruptcy has many downsides and is a decision that should be taken very seriously, there is no shame in utilizing a system that was designed to give honest and contributing members of society a second chance when financial miscalculation — or even plain bad luck —left them awash in debt.

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