U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings increased 39.2 percent nationwide in November from the same period a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

The overall November consumer filing total of 99,925 represented a slight decrease from the October total of 106,266. Chapter 13 filings constituted 32.7 percent of all consumer cases in November, a slight increase from October.

Chapter 13 allows debtors to possibly keep their homes and some other assets by setting up a payment plan with creditors.

“While new bankruptcies dipped slightly in November from the yearly high reached last month, we are still on track for nearly 1.1 million new cases this year, the highest figure since Congress changed the bankruptcy laws in 2005,” said Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “We expect the alarming rate of personal bankruptcies to continue well into 2009.” But is it really that alarming? A rise in bankruptcies may be considered an economic indicator of how a slowing economy affects the American population.

December 3, 2008