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Local Bankruptcy Filings Up 9.7% But Texas State and Local Bankruptcy Filings Still Rank the Lowest in the Country

A common client question is: Are bankruptcy filings increas­ing as a result of the downturn in the economy? The normal assumption is that bankruptcy filings must be increasing because of all of the national media reports about unemploy­ment, the inability for businesses to obtain loans, and the general downturn in the economy.The clear answer for Houston bankruptcy filings is “yes” – bankruptcy filings in the Greater Houston area have spiked upward in 2011. In the Southern District of Texas, which includes Greater Houston and Corpus Christi, and 42 Texas counties, total bankruptcy filings increased by 9.7% in 2011 (15,927 in 2011 v. 14,525 in 2010).

However, Bankruptcy filing rates vary tremendously by locality. Although total local filings in the Southern District of Texas have increased this year, both local and Texas statewide bankruptcy filing rates are still the lowest in the country. The October 2011 Bankruptcy Filings Report issued by National Bankruptcy Research Center states that the national average of bankruptcy filings for 2011 was 5 for every 1,000 in population (.5% of the national pollution). In Texas, the percentage of the filings was .27% statewide (2.7 for every 1,000 in population) and .23% locally (2.3 for every 1,000 in population).

By contrast, bankruptcy filings in the hardest hit areas of the country are over 4 times as high. For example, the filing percentage for Nevada, the highest bankruptcy filing rate in the country, is 1% (10 for every 1,000 in population). The filing rates in the next 3 highest ranking states (Georgia, Tennessee and Utah) averaged .83% (8.3 filings per 1,000 in population). At the bottom of the list, the 6 states with the lowest bankruptcy filing rates were Washington, D.C., Alaska, South Carolina, Vermont, North Dakota, and Texas, with bankruptcy filings of about one half the national average. Texas had the lowest bankruptcy filing rate in the country: 2.7 for every 1,000 in population. Texas’ low bankruptcy filing rate is also significant because its population is greater than all other low filing states combined.

The bottom line – although the economic downturn may have hit the nation hard, its effect in Texas, at least with respect to bankruptcy filings, has been minimal.