After declining for eight consecutive years, total bankruptcy filings during calendar year 2019 increased 0.28% from 2018, reported ABI, based on data provided by Epiq Systems.

Total filings edged up to 757,497 in 2019 from 755,353 filings during calendar year 2018. Total consumer filings also increased to 718,553 nationwide for calendar year 2019, 0.17% more than the 717,321 total filings during 2018. The 38,944 total commercial filings during calendar year 2019 increased 2.4% from the commercial filing total of 38,032 during calendar year 2018.

The commercial Chapter 11 filing total of 5,502 during calendar year 2019 represented a 0.36% increase from the 5,482 commercial chapter 11 filings in 2018.

“Two developments in the coming year will improve access to the fresh start of bankruptcy for both struggling small businesses and households,” said ABI Executive Director Amy Quackenboss. “The Small Business Reorganization Act becomes effective next month to provide a better path for Main Street debtors to restructure their debts. Also, the courts, Congress and other stakeholders continue to consider the recommendations of ABI’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy to modernize the Bankruptcy Code for consumers wrestling with overwhelming debt loads.”

The “Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019,” signed into law on Aug. 23, 2019, by President Donald Trump, becomes effective February 19, 2020. SBRA adds a new subchapter V to Chapter 11, providing a better path for small businesses to successfully restructure, reduce liquidations, save jobs and increase recoveries to creditors. ABI’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy issued its Final Report of recommendations in April 2019 to improve access to the consumer bankruptcy system.

Total bankruptcy filings for the month of December increased 2% to 53,030 in 2019 from the 52,059 filings in December 2018. The 50,160 total noncommercial filings for December also represented a 2% increase from the December 2018 noncommercial filing total of 49,096. The 2,870 total commercial filings in December 2019 represented a 3% decrease from the 2,963 total commercial filings during the same period in 2018. Commercial chapter 11 filings dropped 14% to 391 in December 2019 from the 456 commercial chapter 11 filings in December 2018.

The average nationwide per capita bankruptcy filing rate for calendar year 2019 (Jan. 1-December 31) increased slightly to 2.44 (total filings per 1,000 population) from the 2.43 rate during calendar year 2019. States with the highest per capita filing rates (total filings per 1,000 population) through 2019 were:

1. Alabama (5.62)
2. Tennessee (5.29)
3. Georgia (4.38)
4. Mississippi (4.19)
5. Illinois (3.71)