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Bankruptcy filings down 6 percent in first quarter 2011

The number of Americans seeking debt relief through the bankruptcy court fell 6 percent during the first three month of 2011, when compared to the same time frame last year. The total number of consumer bankruptcies filed across the country dropped to 340,012 in the 2011 first quarter. In the first quarter of 2010, 363,215 Americans filed for bankruptcy relief.

Despite the 6 percent drop in filings across the country, the number of Americans seeking relief from debt remains high. Certainly the number of bankruptcies varies in different areas across the nation and in different counties across Ohio.

Similarly, the number of people filing for bankruptcy varies from month to month. In March, 144,657 people filed for bankruptcy. That is a 41 percent jump over the number of people that filed in February this year and only a 3 percent drop from the number of individuals filing for consumer bankruptcy in March 2010.

Last year's numbers were the highest since the bankruptcy law was overhauled in 2005. In 2010, 1.53 million bankruptcies were filed in the U.S. That is the highest number since just before the law was amended. More than 2 million cases were filed in 2005, ahead of the bankruptcy reform that took place in October of that year.

The Federal Reserve says that outstanding U.S. consumer debt has fallen slightly over the past two years as Americans have tightened their belts. In January, outstanding consumer debt totaled $2.41 trillion, slightly lower than the $2.57 trillion in outstanding debt recorded two years ago.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. consumer bankruptcies down 6 pct in Q1," Jonathan Stempel and Tim Dobbyn 4 Apr 2011

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