Some bright financial news has come out of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida recently: bankruptcy filings in that area fell nearly 20 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. The middle district encompasses the large metropolitan areas of Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.
The decrease seen in the middle district is much higher than the drop in bankruptcy filing rates nationwide. Nationally, federal bankruptcy filings fell 11.5 percent compared to the district's decrease of 19.7 percent. According to information provided by the administrative office of the U.S. Courts, the lower rates in 2011 represent the first national dip in filings since 2006.
However, keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean that the economy is ready to rebound, but it is an indication that for some people things are starting to look up.
How do the filings in the middle district break down?
There were far more consumer bankruptcy filings in Florida's middle district than business filings in the same area. Personal bankruptcies accounted for the great majority of federal filings -- 51,166 in all. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there were 38,206 for the middle district, and 12,872 Chapter 13 filings.
Business bankruptcy filings accounted for about five percent of total filings for the middle district. There were 2,389 in all. Of those, the majority of business filings in 2011 -- 1,718 -- were Chapter 7 liquidations.
Comparatively, there were nearly 500 Chapter 11 filings to reorganize the finances of a company while it remains open for business. There were also 17 financially distressed small farmers who filed for protection under Chapter 12 of the bankruptcy code and 157 businesses who filed for Chapter 13 repayment.
Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal, "Bankruptcy filings drop in Florida's middle district," Feb. 9, 2012.