Bankrutpcy filings fell by 13% in 2014 as compared to 2013. The biggest drop was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings; down 19.9%. Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings declined by 14.8% and Chapter 13s by a more modest 8.8%.
The number of bankruptcy filings in 2014 varied widely by region. The biggest drop in bankruptcy filings occurred in western states -- filings in the district courts of the Ninth Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington) dropped by 22%. The only area that had an increase in bankruptcy filings was Puerto Rico, which saw a 3% uptick. You can get more detailed statistics in the 2014 Annual Report of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The Administrative Office of the Courts was careful to point out that the number of bankruptcies does not necessarily correlate to the health of the economy. The factors that cause people to file for bankruptcy are complex. An uptick in bankruptcies can result from the economy being better -- increased consumer confidence and access to credit, and the corresponding overextension of credit, may lead to more bankruptcies. On the flip side, an increase in bankruptcy filings can result from negative economic factors such as increased unemployment and foreclosure.
Despite fewer filings, there are still plenty of people filing for bankruptcy. In 2014, the number was 963,739.