U.S. bankruptcy filings for the first quarter ended March 31 fell 5% to 195,565 compared to 205,851 in the same period last year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute and data provided by Epiq Systems Inc.

In March, total bankruptcy filings increased 21% to 78,322 from 64,686 in February but that's still 4% less than the 81,693 filings in March 2015, according to the ABI. Noncommercial filings also increased month-to-month from 61,651 in February to 74,981 in March, but are 5% lower than the 79,016 filings in March 2015.

"After 22 consecutive declines in total quarterly filings, the drop-off is tapering as more struggling businesses and households turn to the financial relief of bankruptcy," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. "Distress in the energy and retail sectors is represented in the increasing total of business filings and we are also seeing a rise in individual chapter 11 filings."

Commercial chapter 11 filings also increased 9% from 1,300 in 2015 to 1,419 during the first three months of 2016.The average U.S. per capita bankruptcy filing rate for the first quarter increased to 2.51 (total filings per 1,000 per population) from the 2.26 filing rate of the first two months of the year. States with the highest per capita filing rate (total filings per 1,000 population) for the first quarter of 2016 were: Tennessee (5.70); Alabama (5.45); Georgia (4.64); Illinois (4.46); and Mississippi (3.89), according to the ABI.


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