Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bankruptcy Today

It can happen to anyone. According to The Wall Street Journal:
A wedding ring, college degree and a well-paying job: the American dream or a recipe for bankruptcy? Some of the factors often associated with financial success are increasingly becoming correlated with personal bankruptcy filings, a study released Tuesday by the Institute for Financial Literacy found. The study found that from 2006 to 2010, bankruptcy filings increased among college graduates and those earning $60,000 a year or more. What’s more, last year, 64% of bankruptcy filers surveyed were married—a number that also increased from five years ago.

“The Great Recession has had a dramatic impact on the bankruptcy filings of American consumers across the economic spectrum—including college educated, high income earners,” said Leslie E. Linfield, executive director the institute. “While less educated, low income individuals continue to represent the typical bankruptcy filer, this report underscores sophisticated evolution of the profile of the American debtor that now extends to disparate age, income and ethnic groups.”

The survey collected responses from some 50,000 of individuals that filed for bankruptcy in the past five years. All respondents had sought credit counseling. The study found that those holding a bachelor’s degree accounted for 13.58% of filings last year, up from 11.2% in 2006—a 21% increase. Those holding high school degrees still accounted for the largest percentage of filers, 36.27%, but their proportion of all filers fell by 8.6%. Those most at risk for a bankruptcy filing were individuals who attended college but did not complete a degree, the study said. They accounted for 28.7% of filings last year.

“This we suspect is because they have all the burdens of school related debt and none of the rewards of an actual degree,” the study said. While those earning less than $20,000 per year accounted for nearly 40% of all filings, higher-income earners saw their ranks grow in the past five years, the study found. (Read entire article.)

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