Amid signs that consumers are getting a better handle on their finances, metro Phoenix bankruptcy filings fell another 27 percent in June.
The 1,770 Phoenix area filings last month brought the total for the first half of the year to 10,867, down nearly 24percent from the 14,271 in the first half of 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Arizona reported. The statistics cover January through June.
The numbers were in line with a statewide filing drop of 25 percent in June and 23 percent over the first six months of the year. Both sets of statistics mirrored the national trend, in which filings fell 18 percent in June from a year earlier, with a decline of 14 percent in the first half of the year.
"We are on pace for perhaps the lowest total (of) new bankruptcies since before the financial crisis in 2008," said Samuel Gerdano, executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, which released the national figures along with Epiq Systems Inc.
The release of bankruptcy figures follows a report last week by the American Bankers Association showing that Americans are back to pre-recession levels in terms of making payments on time.
Delinquencies fell in 10 or 11 loan categories tracked by the association for the first quarter. The composite results for eight types of installment loans were the best since 2007. Some 2.35 percent of these loans were 30 or more days past due, falling from 2.49 percent in last year's fourth quarter. Delinquencies for these loans -- which include those for autos, mobile homes and home equity -- also are below the 15 year average of 2.4 percent.
Bank credit-card delinquencies also eased, falling to 3.08 percent in the first quarter from 3.17 percent.
"Consumers have done a remarkable job getting their finances under control," said James Chessen, chief economist for the American Bankers Association.
Considering that retail gasoline prices have fallen noticeably since the first quarter, he sees further improvement going forward, with less pressure on consumer wallets.
Chapter 7 filings, which allow debtors a fresh start after non-exempt assets are used to pay creditors, accounted for 86 percent of metro Phoenix bankruptcies, both in June and for the first half of the year. Chapter 13 debt-reorganization plans accounted for most of the rest.
By Russ Wiles, The Republic|azcentral.comPosted Jul 10, 2012
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