US Bankruptcy Statistics & Data – Updated 2020

If you’re dealing with financial struggles that have you considering bankruptcy, it’s common to feel like you’re alone in the world. But, hundreds of thousands of Americans declare bankruptcy each year. While many people tend to look at bankruptcy as the result of reckless spending and poor financial management, bankruptcy statistics show that most filings are the result of unforeseen financial hardships. 

Today, we’re going to take a look at some compelling bankruptcy statistics that should reveal a clearer picture of the state of bankruptcy in 2020. 

Bankruptcy Statistics

The most common reasons for bankruptcy are income loss, medical expenses, or an untenable mortgage. [1]

Bankruptcy proceedings fell 0.9% from the fiscal year 2018 to the fiscal year 2019. [2]

Of the 779,828 bankruptcy filings in the fiscal year 2018, 2,070 cases were audited. [3]

2,257 debtors declaring bankruptcy in the fiscal year 2018 had their case referred to criminal courts for fraud or criminal activity relating to their bankruptcy case. This is a 4% increase compared to 2017. [4]

62% of consumers seeking bankruptcy protection declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2019. Chapter 7 is the most popular bankruptcy protection for consumers. [5]

Veterans and people who are divorced, separated, or widowed are most likely to declare bankruptcy. [6]

8% of people filing for bankruptcy protection have filed before. Repeat filers represent 16% of total bankruptcy cases. [7]

Bankruptcy filings among those 65 or older have increased 392.6% from 1991. [8]

Today, seniors age 65-74 represent 8.9% of all bankruptcy filings. [9]

Less young people age 18-24 are declaring bankruptcy today than in years passed. Bankruptcies in this demographic have fallen 75.8% since 1991. [10] 

To date, in 2020, 15,455 Californians have declared for bankruptcy, leading the country. [11]

Over 80% of consumers declaring for bankruptcy protection have a high school education. About half have at least some college education. [12]

94.9% of bankruptcies in 2019 were filed by consumers. Only 5.1% of total bankruptcy filings were from commercial businesses. [13]

Households are 2.5 times more likely to file bankruptcy in the year following a job loss. [14]

Alabama leads the country in per capita bankruptcies, with 5.4 Alabamians per 1,000 declaring for bankruptcy in 2019. [15]

California led the country in 2019, with 67,150 bankruptcy declarations. [16]

Today, bankruptcy is most common among Americans age 45-54, with 7.1 Americans per 1,000 declaring bankruptcy in this demographic. [17] 

Bankruptcy rates are steadily decreasing in the 18-44 demographic, while steadily increasing in those 45 and older. [18]

Increasing debt is driving the trend of bankruptcies in older Americans. The median debt for families where the head of household is 60+ increased from $18,385 in 2001 to $40,900 in 2013. [19]

Women declare bankruptcy at a higher rate than men. Experts point to the gender pay gap as the reason for this discrepancy. [20]

Two out of three Americans declaring bankruptcy cite medical debt as the primary cause of bankruptcy. [21]

Sources

[1] http://www.pnhp.org/docs/AJPHBankruptcy2019.pdf

[2] https://www.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/data_tables/bf_f_0331.2019.pdf

[3] https://www.justice.gov/ust/file/debtor_audits_fy_2018_public_report.pdf/download

[4] https://www.justice.gov/ust/file/criminal_report_fy2018.pdf/download

[5] https://www.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/data_tables/bf_f_0331.2019.pdf

[6] https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2017/CES-WP-17-54.pdf

[7] https://www.debt.org/bankruptcy/statistics/

[8] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3226574

[9] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3226574

[10] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3226574

[11] https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fabi-org-corp.s3.amazonaws.com

[12] https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2017/CES-WP-17-54.pdf

[13]https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fabi-org-corp.s3.amazonaws.com%2Farticles%2Faacer-dec-2019-commercial-bankruptcy-filings-all-chapters-ch-11-focus.xlsx

[14] https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2010/201024/index.html

[15] https://www.abi.org/newsroom/bankruptcy-statistics?page=2

[16] https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/personal-bankruptcy-statistics/

[17] https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=75111900110009600309

[18] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1925006

[19]  https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=75111900110009600309

[20] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1925006

[21] https://www.singlecare.com/blog/medical-debt-statistics/