NEW YORK U.S. bankruptcy filings have reached the highest level since 2005, government data released on Tuesday show, as the economy slows and the unemployment rate hovers just below double digits.
There were 422,061 bankruptcy filings between April and June, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, up 9 percent from 388,148 in the prior three-month period, and up 11 percent from 381,073 a year earlier.
For the year ended June 30, there were 1.57 million bankruptcies, up 20 percent from 1.31 million a year earlier. Consumer bankruptcies rose 21 percent to 1.51 million, and business bankruptcies rose 9 percent to 59,608.
Quarterly filings surpassed 400,000 for the first time since a record 667,431 bankruptcies were begun in the fourth quarter of 2005, when Congress overhauled federal bankruptcy laws and made it harder for people and businesses to file.
"We know the causes of bankruptcy are principally job losses and health care, with the overlay of the foreclosure crisis," said Deborah Thorne, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio University. "It feels very unsettled, and I'm not surprised the numbers are going up. Until we get our feet on the ground, provide decent-paying jobs, and do something with the housing crisis, bankruptcies will continue to go up."
According to her website, Thorne has co-authored several publications with Elizabeth Warren, a candidate to run the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve said high unemployment, reflected in July's 9.5 percent rate, as well as modest income growth, falling home prices and tight credit amid a contraction in bank lending were factors contributing to a slowdown in economic growth.
Nevada had the highest rate of filings on a per capita basis in the last year, with 11.74 per 1,000 people, while Alaska had the fewest, with just 1.58 per 1,000.
Among the most populous states, California ranked 7th in per capita filings, while Texas was 48th, New York 41st and Florida 15th.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Carol Bishopric)