Across the nation, there has been a dramatic increase in bankruptcy filings as more and more people are out of work or underemployed and unable to meet their financial obligations. Nowhere is this economic decline more evident than the state of Michigan, where both unemployment and bankruptcy figures have risen dramatically.
The state of Michigan has had the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, 15.3 in September. A glimpse of hope has been seen over the past couple months which have seen the rate drop to 15.1 in October. That number fell further, to 14.7 in November, as 16000 people became employed and the unemployed ranks closed by 20000. The unemployment rate for the nation dropped down to 10% in November.
Citizens of Kalamazoo, Michigan, like much of the nation, have been beset by economic woes over the last few years. Much of the state has been severely hit by the economic crunch with the woes that have hit the auto industry, a major employer throughout the state.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Grand Rapids handles bankruptcy filings for Kalamazoo County. Through the first eleven months of the year over a thousand cases (1084 to be exact) were heard. This number was an increase of 13% over the previous year. The major source of bankruptcy filings came from the consumer sector as they increased by 16% over the last year from 960 through the end of November (from 830).
Kalamazoo County also falls under the purview of the Western Michigan District of the federal bankruptcy court. For the first eleven months of 2009 there were nearly 15000 bankruptcy cases filed in the district. As could be expected the vast majority were of the personal nature, Chapter 7, which totaled 13,278 up to this point in the year. Over 1600 filed for Chapter 13 protection with an additional 55 cases being filed for Chapter 11.
Many local attorneys say they have not seen this much work since the rush of filings back before the new law was passed back in 2005. Although there have been improvements in the recent unemloyement numbers across the state there is little evidence that relief will come to the beleagured state or Kalamazoo county any time soon.