Total Bankruptcy Filings Drop 30 Percent in Calendar Year 2020, Commercial Chapter 11s Up 29 Percent

Total Bankruptcy Filings Drop 30 Percent in Calendar Year 2020, Commercial Chapter 11s Up 29 Percent

Alexandria, Va. Total bankruptcy filings during calendar year 2020 (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) decreased 30 percent from 2019 as the government and lenders offered stabilization measures in response to the economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data provided by Epiq, total filings fell from 757,634 in 2019 to 529,071 filings during calendar year 2020. Annual bankruptcy filings last registered a similar total in 1986, with 530,438 total filings, and the 30 percent drop from 2019-20 is the second-largest percentage decrease since the 70 percent drop in filings recorded in 2005-06. That decrease was the result of the implementation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which prompted total bankruptcies to rise to 2,078,415 ahead of its enactment then fall to 617,660 total filings in 2006.

Total consumer filings were 496,565 nationwide for calendar year 2020 (Jan. 1-Dec. 31), 31 percent fewer than the 718,584 total filings during 2019. The 2020 consumer filing total is the lowest since the 495,553 filings registered in 1987. Chapter 13 filings decreased 46 percent, as the 152,828 chapter 13s in 2020 were down from the 282,712 filings in 2019. Commercial filings also declined, as the 32,506 business filings in calendar year 2020 represented a 17 percent drop from the 39,050 recorded in calendar year 2019.

Commercial chapter 11 filings, however, increased 29 percent during calendar year 2020 as the total of 7,128 climbed past the 5,519 recorded during calendar year 2019. The 2020 commercial chapter 11 filing total was the highest total since the 7,789 filings registered in 2012.

“Continued government relief programs, moratoriums and lender deferments have helped families and businesses weather the economic challenges over the past year resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ABI Executive Director Amy Quackenboss. “While stabilization programs have achieved their intended effect in keeping families and businesses afloat amid the pandemic, bankruptcy provides a proven economic shelter for companies and consumers facing mounting financial distress.”

In late December 2020, Congress passed and President Trump signed H.R. 133, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021,” into law, which combined $900 billion in stimulus relief for the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. along with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year. A new round of stimulus payments were provided to Americans; measures such as enhanced unemployment benefits, the Paycheck Protection Program and eviction moratoriums were re-established; and greater bankruptcy-relief measures were incorporated into the new law. Visit ABI’s COVID-19 Resources page for additional analysis of the bankruptcy provisions of the new law.


Total bankruptcy filings for the month of December decreased 35 percent to 34,307 in 2020 from the 53,066 filings in December 2019. Similarly, the 32,121 total noncommercial filings for December represented a 36 percent decrease from the December 2019 noncommercial filing total of 50,160. The 2,186 total commercial filings in December 2020 represented a 25 percent decrease from the 2,906 total commercial filings during the same period in 2019. Commercial chapter 11 filings in December 2020 edged up by one filing, to 393 from the 392 commercial chapter 11 filings in December 2019.

The average nationwide per capita bankruptcy filing rate for calendar year 2020 (Jan. 1-December 31) decreased slightly to 1.71 (total filings per 1,000 population) from the 2.44 rate during 2019. States with the highest per capita filing rates (total filings per 1,000 population) through December 2020 were:

1. Alabama (3.85)

2. Delaware (3.62)

3. Tennessee (3.39)

4. Nevada (2.94)

5. Mississippi (2.85)

ABI has partnered with Epiq in order to provide the most current bankruptcy filing data for analysts, researchers and members of the news media. Epiq is a leading provider of managed technology for the global legal profession. 

For further information about the statistics or additional requests, please contact ABI Public Affairs Officer John Hartgen at 703-894-5935 or [email protected].


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 nearly 11,000 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

Epiq is a leading provider of managed technology for the global legal profession. Epiq offers innovative technology solutions for electronic discovery, document review, legal notification, claims administration and controlled disbursement of funds. Epiq’s clients include leading law firms, corporate legal departments, bankruptcy trustees, government agencies, mortgage processors, financial institutions, and other professional advisors who require innovative technology, responsive service and deep subject-matter expertise. For more information on Epiq, please visit