Bankruptcy filings declined 5 percent in Ohio last year — the fourth consecutive year that they dropped in the state.
Ohio lagged behind the nation, though, which saw filings fall 12 percent, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
There were 47,892 cases filed in Ohio last year, compared to 50,641 the previous year.
Both personal and business filings declined.
There were 46,946 personal filings, down 5 percent, and 946 business filings, down 12 percent.
Reginald Jackson, a former president of the American Bankruptcy Institute and a partner at the Vorys law firm in Columbus, said the slightly improved economy and fact that there had been so many filings in previous years may explain the lower numbers.
Willa Gibson, a law professor at the University of Akron, agreed and also cited a healthier stock market and government programs that helped struggling homeowners with their mortgages.
“More people are probably employed so that has an impact as well as the ability to refinance at lower interest rates,” she said.
Medical bills and job loss are the two biggest problems that push people into bankruptcy.
The court statistics show there were:
• 36,486 Chapter 7 filings, which involve liquidating nonexempt property with the proceeds going to creditors.
• 11,284 Chapter 13 filings, which involve a debtor keeping his property and paying back the debt over time.
• 111 Chapter 11 filings, a reorganization usually done by a corporation.
• 11 Chapter 12 filings, which are reserved for farmers and fishermen.
The filings in Summit County fell 3 percent to 2,660, which includes one case filed outside the bankruptcy court’s northern district. Stark and Portage counties experienced 2 percent and 6 percent declines, respectively.
Elsewhere in the Akron area, Wayne (6 percent), Medina (3 percent) and Cuyahoga (1 percent) had increases.
Cuyahoga had the most filings in the state with 7,050, which includes seven cases filed outside the bankruptcy court’s northern district. Noble County in southeastern Ohio had the least with 24.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.