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Bankruptcy filings drop slightly in April

According to the latest report from the National Bankruptcy Research Center, bankruptcy filings for April 2010 dropped around 1 percent from those in March.

The report, which is published monthly, found that there were 145,000 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. last month, bringing the national yearly total to 510,000. However, the April number is still 15 percent higher than it was last April, and the year-to-date number is 17 percent higher than it was in 2009.

Of the filings, about three-quarters were Chapter 7 filings; that is, liquidation of assets to creditors. The other 25 percent were Chapter 13 filings, driven mainly by southern states, where the rate of such filings can reach or even top 50 percent. Several states, meanwhile, saw less than 10 percent of their filings come under Chapter 13.

The report found that there were roughly 4,500 filings per one million households, or 1 in every 225. The most heavily-concentrated areas for filings were the Southeast and Southwest. Nevada residents, for example, file at nearly twice the national average, while Georgia, Tennessee and California all filed about one and a half times more often.

Filings are a problem in Georgia, in particular, the report said. The counties with the single highest concentration of filings were almost all suburbs of Atlanta, and seven of the 10 counties with the highest rates were in Georgia.

And while southeastern states still rank near the top of the national list in terms of amount of filing, several, like Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama, have actually seen their filing rates drop in the last year. In contrast, Arizona's filing rate has increased 46 percent, while California's is up 40 percent.

However, it isn't just residents of southern states that are filing. According to a report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which tracks the number of filings that come through the court system, bankruptcy filings rose 30 percent in Massachusetts over the last year, a report in the Boston Globe said. The number of filings climbed from 17,131 to 22,249 for the last 12 months ending in March. However, while the jump was precipitous, it only vaulted Massachusetts to 35th in bankruptcies per capita.

That report cited Nevada as tops in bankruptcies per capita, with 11.7 filings per 1,000 residents. Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and Alabama, respectively, rounded out the top five.