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Bankruptcy filings stable in Western New York, compared to many other areas: Interactive map link

The Federal Courts have created a fascinating county-by-county map of per-capita bankruptcy filings in the United States over the past five years. The intensity of bankruptcy filings is indicated by color. By clicking different years, you instantly see the rise - or lack of rise - of bankruptcy around the country.

While very interesting, the map over-emphasizes rural areas. Most people live in major metropolitan areas, which cover a tiny portion of the country at large. By putting your mouse pointer over individual counties, you can see the specific ratio of filings per year. This shows a very interesting pattern in different parts of the country, which I have analyzed below.

First, I have disregarded the figures for the year October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006. "BAPCPA", the revision of the bankruptcy code, went into effect October 17, 2005, at the start of that year. A huge surge of filings took place immediately before the new date, followed by a drought of cases immediately afterward, making for a very distorted year. In my analysis, I am starting with the year ending September 30, 2007, the first "normal" year following the enactment of BAPCPA.

I start with our home town - Rochester - as a base of comparison. Over the past four years, bankruptcy filings here have been extraordinarily stable, and relatively low:

Monroe County (Rochester), New York
2007: 2.65 per thousand residents
2008: 2.70
2009: 2.81
2010: 2.68

Our neighbors to the east and west (Syracuse and Buffalo/Niagara Falls) have also shown little change in bankruptcy filings the past four years, although the rate of filings are higher than Rochester:

Onondaga County (Syracuse), New York
2007: 4.68
2008: 3.67
2009: 3.87
2010: 3.88

Erie County (Buffalo), New York
2007: 3.52
2008: 3.73
2009: 3.93
2010: 3.97

Niagara County (Niagara Falls), New York
2007: 3.94
2008: 4.27
2009: 4.40
2010: 4.46

Further afield, in Central New York, Albany has shown a steady increase in filings, while Binghamton has not (and the rates of filings in Binghamton are at Rochester levels):

Albany County, New York
2007: 2.58
2008: 3.21
2009: 3.43
2010: 3.92

Broome County (Binghamton), New York
2007: 2.70
2008: 2.76
2009: 3.07
2010: 2.66

Downstate New York has shown a doubling in the rate of filings, but this region started with a much lower rate of filings than Western New York four years ago, and the current rates are still relatively low, even in the outer boroughs of New York City. Westchester, the wealthy county immediately north of The Bronx, and Nassau, the Long Island county next to Brooklyn and Queens, have both shown increases from a very low starting point.

Westchester County (north of New York City), New York
2007: 0.99
2008: 1.45
2009: 1.80
2010: 2.05

New York County (Manhattan), New York
2007: 1.10
2008: 1.28
2009: 1.92
2010: 1.99

Bronx County, New York
2007: 1.54
2008: 1.84
2009: 2.28
2010: 2.38

Nassau County (Long Island), New York
2007: 1.36
2008: 1.90
2009: 2.58
2010: 2.65

Outer suburban counties of New York City have also doubled their bankruptcy filings, and started with a rate higher than the core area of the New York Metro Area:

Ulster County, New York
2007: 2.02
2008: 2.86
2009: 3.20
2010: 4.07

Suffolk County (Long Island), New York
2007: 2.05
2008: 3.02
2009: 3.96
2010: 4.49

Middlesex County, New Jersey
2007: 1.56
2008: 2.07
2009: 3.07
2010: 3.97

New Haven County, Connecticut
2007: 2.11
2008: 2.92
2009: 3.66
2010: 3.99

Elsewhere in the North East, there has been at most a modest rise in filings in major metropolitan areas, like Downstate New York, and starting from a very low rate to begin with. Current rates would still be considered low in much of the country:

Suffolk County (Boston) Massachusetts
2007: 1.69
2008: 1.80
2009: 2.07
2010: 2.58

Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania:
2007: 2.12
2008: 1.96
2009: 1.95
2010: 2.24

In the Midwest, bankruptcy filings four years ago in the older industrial centers were at a relatively high level. Throughout the region, rates have increased significantly but not dramatically (although the increase in Chicagoland is significant compared to other older major cities)

Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Ohio
2007: 5.54
2008: 5.59
2009: 6.76
2010: 6.91

Wayne County (Detroit) Michigan
2007: 6.39
2008: 7.30
2009: 8.74
2010: 8.53

Cook County (Chicago) Illinois
2007: 3.87
2008: 4.29
2009: 5.86
2010: 7.23

Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Ohio
2007: 3.87
2008: 4.22
2009: 5.04
2010: 5.50

Hennepin County (Minneapolis), Minnesota
2007: 2.00
2008: 2.73
2009: 3.59
2010: 4.28

In the South (outside of the Carolinas, for some reason), the rate of increase in filings has been very significant, and in the case of Florida, dramatic:

Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia
2007: 4.07
2008: 4.74
2009: 6.26
2010: 7.08

Cobb County (suburban county west of Atlanta), Georgia
2007: 4.02
2008: 4.79
2009: 6.51
2010: 7.42

Orange County (Orlando), Florida
2007: 1.84
2008: 3.47
2009: 6.20
2010: 8.20

Miami-Dade County, Florida
2007: 1.85
2008: 3.17
2009: 4.55
2010: 7.07

Mecklenberg County (Charlotte), North Carolina
2007: 1.88
2008: 1.94
2009: 2.31
2010: 2.69

Texas has not experienced the dramatic rise in Southern States to the east. The bankruptcy filing rate is low and stable. Houston is typical:

Harris County (Houston) Texas
2007: 1.72
2008: 1.57
2009: 1.65
2010: 1.99

In the Mountain States, bankruptcy filings have risen steeply, most stratospherically in Las Vegas, but elsewhere as well:

Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada
2007: 4.21
2008: 7.52
2009: 11.99
2010: 13.09

Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona
2007: 1.58
2008: 2.83
2009: 5.24
2010: 7.29

Salt Lake County, Utah
2007: 2.78
2008: 3.61
2009: 5.61
2010: 7.20

Denver County, Colorado
2007: 2.99
2008: 3.87
2009: 5.04
2010: 6.16

The Pacific Northwest has seen a significant increase, though not a dramatic one:

King County (Seattle), Washington
2007: 1.68
2008: 2.17
2009: 3.41
2010: 4.35

Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon
2007: 2.56
2008: 2.92
2009: 4.10
2010: 4.87

California is all over the place: although filings are up, the rate of increase varies. In San Francisco, rates are similar to Boston and Manhattan, and wealthy Marin, on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, looks somewhat like New York's Westchester and Nassau:

San Francisco County, California
2007: 1.11
2008: 1.37
2009: 2.07
2010: 2.69

Marin County, California
2007: 1.02
2008: 1.42
2009: 2.46
2010: 3.32

Silicon Valley had a very low rate of filings four years ago; now, not so much:

Santa Clara County (San Jose), California
2007: 1.24
2008: 2.05
2009: 3.52
2010: 4.86

The whole Sacramento Valley has seen a huge increase, typified by the state capital itself:

Sacramento County, California
2007: 3.19
2008: 5.33
2009: 7.56
2010: 9.17

In the Southland, nothing but bad news. Bankruptcy filings have tripled in San Diego, quadrupled in LA and quintupled in the huge (population: 2 million each) San Bernadino and Riverside Counties:

San Diego County, California
2007: 2.26
2008: 3.91
2009: 6.05
2010: 7.35

Los Angeles County, California
2007: 1.58
2008: 2.95
2009: 4.96
2010: 7.11

San Bernadino County (east of LA), California
2007: 1.65
2008: 3.35
2009: 6.13
2010: 9.06

Riverside County (east of LA), California
2007: 2.06
2008: 4.61
2009: 7.89
2010: 10.98

Lets not overlook our farthest flung Americans. Although entirely different in geography, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico have seen a rise in bankruptcies, but not as dramatic as in many mainland communities:

Anchorage Municipality, Alaska
2007: 1.25
2008: 1.63
2009: 1.59
2010: 2.05

Honolulu County, Hawaii
2007: 1.08
2008: 1.33
2009: 1.96
2010: 2.46

Puerto Rico:
2007: 1.90
2008: 2.19
2009: 2.75
2010: 3.08

For all we complain about the economy in Rochester, in bankruptcy filings we have maintained a low and stable filing rate during these tumultuous past four years.

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Peter R. Scribner, Esq | 1110 Park Avenue | Rochester, New York 14610
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