Consumer bankruptcies soar in September

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - Consumer bankruptcies soared 41 percent in September from a year before and climbed from August, as high unemployment and the housing market crash took their toll, the American Bankruptcy Institute said on Friday.

September filings totaled 124,790, the fourth-highest month since the bankruptcy law changed in 2005.

Filings also rose 4 percent from August, even as recent reports have indicated that the U.S. housing market might be stabilizing and consumer confidence appears to be recovering.

September’s filings pushed 2009 consumer bankruptcies to about 1.05 million, the highest for the first nine months of a year since 1.35 million in 2005.

The American Bankruptcy Institute said it expects consumer bankruptcies to climb to more than 1.4 million this year.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high in September at 9.8 percent, according to government statistics released on Friday.

Although recent reports show that the erosion in the U.S. housing market might be easing, after dramatic declines in sales and prices, credit bureau Equifax Inc said recently that mortgage delinquencies accelerated in August to a record level.

Equifax said that indicated personal bankruptcies are likely to continue to rise.

Many Americans with troubled finances rushed to file for bankruptcy in 2005 before a law change, leading to a spike that year.

Reporting by Tom Hals, editing by Gerald E. McCormick