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New Bankruptcy Filings Plummet 38.1 Percent

Bankruptcy filings dropped 38.1 percent for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2021, a dramatic fall that coincided with the coronavirus (COVID-19), which first disrupted the economy in March 2020. According to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the March 2021 annual bankruptcy filings totaled 473,349, compared with 764,282 cases in the previous year.

Filings fell both for businesses and non-business bankruptcies, compared with the year ending March 2020. Non-business filings fell by a total of 38.8 percent, while business filings fell 13.9 percent.

When COVID-19 numbers began to spike last year, unemployment initially soared. But several factors may have contributed to the sharp drop in new bankruptcy filings.

New filings fell in all federal courts, including the bankruptcy courts, as many federal courts closed their doors to in-person business. In addition, unemployment began to moderate, and state lockdown orders depressed personal expenditures. Increased government benefits and moratoriums on evictions and certain foreclosures also may have eased financial pressures in many households.

Additional statistics released today include:

Business and Non-Business Filings,
Years Ending
March 31, 2017-2021

Year Business Non-Business Total
2021 19,911 453,438  473,349
2020 23,114 741,168 764,282
2019 22,157 750,489 772,646
2018 23,106 756,722 779,828
2017 23,591 770,901 794,492

Total Bankruptcy Filings By Chapter,
Years Ending
March 31, 2017-2021

Year Chapter
  7 11 12 13
2021 345,224 7,832 487 119,502
2020 475,279 7,167 638 281,048
2019 474,046 7,023 513 290,963
2018 480,933 7,735 499 290,566
2017 488,417 7,105 457 298,348

For more on bankruptcy and its chapters, view the following resources:

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