In April 2011, Clark County filings fell by twenty-one percent, from 266 to 210. This was the most significant monthly decline. Similarly, the number of cases filed in February 2011 decreased by over eleven percent, from 234 to 207. Similarly, filings decreased by approximately sixteen percent between May and June of 2011, falling from 234 to 196 in May and from 280 to 233 in June. This is consistent with indicators that the economy was strengthening earlier in the year, such as job growth, home sales, and other economic indicators.
In contrast, an examination of comparable statistics from 2010 reveals that Clark County experienced a consistent increase in Vancouver, Washington's bankruptcy filings during the first half of 2010, relative to 2009 filings. Compared to the same months in 2009, the number of filings with the Vancouver, Washington Bankruptcy Court decreased slightly in July, August, and October.
However, early indications of a more robust recovery have given way to alarming signs of at least slowed growth, if not the specter of a double-dip recession. Unanswered is whether and how sluggish job creation and declining housing markets will impact filings for the remainder of the year. Even during times of economic recovery for corporations and the financial sector, those living paycheck to paycheck and on the economic periphery are more susceptible to job loss, furloughs, and other income disruptions.
As a result of firms and employers downsizing, relocating overseas, and limiting wages, there is reason to believe that the number of new bankruptcy filings will increase over the next year. Similarly, budget debates in state legislatures across the nation have threatened the financial security of public employees. Lastly, the imminent debt and budget debates at the federal level add to the financial uncertainty of those at the bottom of the economic ladder and those most susceptible to economic disruptions.
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