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Bankruptcy Filings in First Quarter of '96
Reach All Time High

Bankruptcy filings for the first quarter of 1996, ending March 31, reached 266,149, the highest total for a three-month period in history. Filings increased 25.2 percent over the same period in 1995, according to statistics provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The next highest quarterly total in history was for the quarter ending March 31, 1992, when filings hit 252,733. Filings reached their highest annual total in 1992 (971,517), but this quarter's large filings increase and recent trends indicate that bankruptcy filings for 1996 will exceed one million.

For the 12-month period ended March 31, 1996, bankruptcy filings totalled 980,126, a 16.8 percent increase over the 12 months ended March 31, 1995, when filings totalled 838,644. This figure is also the largest total number of bankruptcy filings for a 12-month period in history.

Bankruptcy filings increased in every judicial district except the Virgin Islands over the 12-month period ending March 31. The largest increases since March 31, 1995 were reported in the following districts: Eastern District of Arkansas (51.4 percent), Southern District of Alabama (48.1 percent), Eastern District of Washington (36.6 percent), Eastern District of Missouri (34 percent), District of Delaware (33.2 percent), Western District of North Carolina (32.7 percent), District of New Mexico (31.5 percent), District of Vermont (31.4 percent), Middle District of Georgia (30.9 percent), and District of Maine (30.4 percent).

Personal bankruptcy filings for the 12 months ended March 31, 1996 accounted for 94.7 percent of the total bankruptcy filings, and increased by 17.8 percent over the 12-month period ended March 31, 1995. This increase comes in the wake of a steady increase in consumer debt, which has expanded briskly for the past two years. Credit card delinquencies are at a 10-year high, and monthly debt service stands at 17 percent of total household income. Also this quarter, business bankruptcy filings increased by one percent over the previous 12-month period.

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