Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oregon's Bankruptcy Filing Rates Rising Even Faster Than the Rapidly Accelerating National Rate: Oregon vs. U.S. vs. Northern District of Texas

By Andrew Toth-Fejel, Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys, Andy@BLSforAttorneys.com

Even though the national bankruptcy filing rates are climbing very steeply, Oregon's are climbing even more so. Thus, while the number of total bankruptcy filings in the 4th quarter of federal fiscal year 2008 (which ended Sept. 30, 2008) increased nationally by 19.0% from the prior quarter--a huge increase on a quarter-to-quarter basis--in Oregon the increase in total bankruptcy fillings was 37.8%, virtually twice the national increase. Similarly, comparing that same 4th quarter of this year to the 4th quarter of fiscal year 2007, the national increase between those two quarters was 33.5% whereas Oregon's was a 46.7% increase.

The increase in the filing numbers in Oregon is noteworthy enough when compared to the national rates, but are even more so when compared to rates in one particular other federal district. The national rate in effect averages the filing rate changes all over the country, with the areas of the country with the greatest bankruptcy filing increases diluted by those areas with lesser increases. So comparing Oregon with another federal district presents some even more striking differences. The Northern District of Texas, based in Dallas, is an area that has a diverse economy which has not been struck nearly as hard as many other parts of the country by the housing boom and bust. I chose this federal district somewhat arbitrarily for this comparison, in large part because this federal district is the source of this website's most recent Bulletin on a Circuit Court case outside the Ninth Circuit, and through that I have been in touch with some attorneys there. Also, this district has a similar amount of total bankruptcy filings as Oregon, and tends to have the most filings of the twelve federal districts of the Fifth Circuit, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. (See "Last Week's New Circuit Court Opinions on BAPCPA: Fifth Circuit Says 'Gag Rule' Against Advising Debtors to 'Incur More Debt' IS Constitutional").

Comparing 3rd & 4th Quarter Fiscal 2008
During the 4th quarter of the 2008 fiscal year, Oregon had a total of 3,532 bankruptcy filings: 2,634 Chapter 7's, 888 Chapter 13's, and 10 Chapter 11's (no Chapter 12's). Along with the 37.8% increase in total cases filed from the prior quarter, this represents a 40.9% quarterly increase in Chapter 7's, a 28.9% increase in Chapter 13's, and a 66.7% increase in Chapter 11's. Chapter 7's are increasing more than Chapter 13's, mirroring the national trend during this same period: while total filings nationally went up 19.0%, Chapter 7's went up 23.1% and 13's went up 10.8%. Nationally, Chapter 11's were up 34.7%. Note that the Oregon quarter-to-quarter increases are about twice or even more then these national increases.

In significant contrast, in this same 3rd to 4th quarter period, in the Northern District of Texas total bankruptcy filings were actually slightly DOWN, from 3,789 to 3,781. Chapter 13's were down from 2,099 to 1,980, Chapter 11's were down from 57 to 47, even Chapter 12's went from 2 to 0. Only Chapter 7's went up, but only by 7.5% from 1,631 to 1,754. This mirrors the trend noted above both in Oregon and nationally towards a higher ratio of Chapter 7's to 13's.

Comparing 4th Quarter Fiscal 2007 with 4th Quarter Fiscal 2008

In Oregon, compared to the same quarter a year earlier--4th quarter of 2008 to the 4th quarter of 2007, along with the 46.7% increase in total bankruptcy filings noted earlier, this represents a huge 51.4% increase in Chapter 7's, a 33.9% increase in Chapter 13's, and a 100% increase in Chapter 11's.

Comparing these increases with the national ones shows Oregon increased at a faster rate year-to-year in each Chapter, but not nearly as much more as in the above quarter-to-quarter increases: nationally in this one-year period Chapter 7 filings were up a very significant 47.8%, Chapter 13 were up 10.7%, and Chapter 11 up a huge 71.3%. Even more than nationally, the year-to-year increase in filings occurred primarily in the last two quarters, again indicating a greatly accelerating trend.

And again in stark contrast, in this same period from the 4th quarter of fiscal 2007 to the 4th quarter of fiscal 2008, in the Northern District of Texas total bankruptcy filings were slightly DOWN, from 3,877 to 3,781. Chapter 13's were down from 2,269 to 1,980, Chapter 11's were virtually the same going slightly up from 46 to 47, and even Chapter 12's went from 1 to 0. Only Chapter 7's went up, but only by 12.4% over the course of the year, from 1,561 to 1,754. Contrast that with Chapter 7 increases in the same period nationally of 47.8% and in Oregon of 51.4%

Ratio of Chapter 7's to 13's
Although in all three jurisdictions there is a clear trend towards a larger proportion of Chapter 7's, both from the 4th quarter of fiscal 2007 to the 4th quarter 2008, and also from the 3rd quarter to the 4th quarter 2008, there are wide differences in the proportions between these two Chapters. In the most recent quarter, the District of Oregon had a nearly three-to-one ratio of Chapter 7's to 13's (2.96 ratio), while the Northern District of Texas had MORE CHAPTER 13's than 7's (0.89 ratio). The national ratio was in between, close to a two-to-one ratio of 7's to 13's (2.07 ratio).

Per Capita Bankruptcy Filings

One of the most revelatory ways of comparing bankruptcy filings over time and over different regions is to count the number of bankruptcies per capita, the number of flings per 1,000 residents. For the 12-month period ending on September 30, 2008, the nation had 3.38 bankruptcy filings per 1,000, compared to 3.15 per 1,000 in the prior quarter. That is a 7.3 percent increase in the number of bankruptcy filings, a significant increase in the number of bankruptcies.

Oregon had a little lower than that national average, 3.06 filings per 1,000 residents, compared to 2.78 filings per 1,000 in the prior year, but that brought it a little closer to the national average. It ranks 25th of the 50 states in filings per capita.

Texas (separate information on the Northern District is not readily available) in great contrast had almost half the per capita filing rate: 1.80 filings per 1,000 residents, ranking 46th of all the states.

Reflecting the information in the above section on the ratio of Chapter 7's to 13's, the national per capita filings of Chapter 7's has gone up from the one-year period ending the 3rd quarter of fiscal 2008 to the one-year period ending on the 4th quarter of this same year, from 2.00 filings per 1,000 to 2.21, and in that same period the per capita filings of Chapter 13's has barely budged from 1.12 filings per 1,000 to 1.15. In the latest quarter, the per capita Chapter 7 rate in Oregon is 2.26, in contrast to only .84 in Texas, and the per capita Chapter 13 rates are .80 and .93, respectively, putting Oregon a little about the national average and Texas way below in per capita Chapter 7 filings, and both states somewhat below the per capita Chapter 13 filings.

The data providing the basis for the calculations in this Bulletin are from the
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

by Andrew Toth-Fejel
Bankruptcy Litigation Support for Attorneys
PLEASE NOTE that this Bulletin and the entire contents of this website are NOT written or intended for the general public but rather only for attorneys. The writer is not licensed to practice law in any state. This means that he is not legally permitted to give any legal advice or perform any legal services. Any non-attorney reading this must consult an attorney about ANYTHING contained here. Nothing in this website is intended to be nor should be read as legal advice to anyone.

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