The number of Americans seeking bankruptcy protection stands at its highest point ever, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts' quarterly report.
In the courts' fiscal year 2003, which ended Sept. 30, the number of bankruptcies filed totaled 1,661,996, marking a 7.4% increase from the prior year's record of 1,547,669.
Nonbusiness or personal bankruptcy filings, grew 7.8% from the prior fiscal year to 1,625,813, and account 97.8% of total bankruptcies.
But, the largest portion of bankruptcy filings fell under Chapter 7, which protects borrowers from the liability of personal debts that exceed assets. The total 1,177,292, rose 8.6% from the prior year, and made up over 98% of the filings that were nonbusiness or personal.
Chapter 13 filings made up the second highest portion with a total 473,763, up 5% from the previous fiscal year. This chapter allows individuals to keep their house while repaying creditors in installments. Nearly 99% of Chapter 13 bankruptcies were nonbusiness or personal.
The fourth quarter of the fiscal year gathered 412,989 bankruptcies, down from 440,257 the prior quarter, and up from 401,306 the same time last year.
The 9th circuit courts, which includes the states of California, Arizona and Nevada, had the highest amount of nonbusiness or personal bankruptcy filings.