First Quarter Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Fall 6 Percent from 2010

First Quarter Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Fall 6 Percent from 2010

Contact: John Hartgen
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April 4, 2011, Alexandria, Va.— Consumer bankruptcies for the first quarter of 2011 (Jan. 1 – March 31) decreased 6 percent nationwide from the same time period in 2010, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC). The data showed that the overall consumer filing total for the first three months of 2011 (Jan. 1-March 31) reached 340,012, down from the 363,215 consumer filings recorded for the first quarter of 2010.
“Though bankruptcy filings are still elevated, consumers continue to take steps to reduce debt levels and shore up their finances,” said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “As a result, we now expect that consumer bankruptcy filings will dip below the 1.5 million filings recorded last year.”
A month-by-month look at the data showed that the overall consumer filing total for March reached 144,657, up from the 102,686 consumer filings recorded in February 2011. Though an increase from the previous month, the March 2011 consumer bankruptcy total represents a 3 percent decrease from the 149,268 filings recorded in March 2010. Chapter 13 filings constituted 26 percent of all consumer cases in March, a slight decrease from February.


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes more than 13,000 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit For additional conference information, visit
NBKRC is an online research center that offers subscribers access to up-to-date research and statistics on bankruptcy filings. The database contains complete information dating back to 1995. For more information on NBKRC, please visit
*Definitions from Bankruptcy Overview: Issues, Law and Policy, by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is available to both individual and business debtors. Its purpose is to achieve a fair distribution to creditors of the debtor’s available non-exempt property.  Unsecured debts not reaffirmed are discharged, providing a fresh financial start. 
Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for both business and consumer debtors. Its purpose is to rehabilitate a business as a going concern or reorganize an individual’s finances through a court-approved reorganization plan.
Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code is designed to give special debt relief to a family farmer with regular income from farming.
Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for an individual with regular income whose debts do not exceed specific amounts; it is typically used to budget some of the debtor’s future earnings under a plan through which unsecured creditors are paid in whole or in part.