The Triangle is a well-known national business center. With major universities driving innovation and a healthy collection of global technology and pharmaceutical companies touching all of its borders, history tends to be on our side in times of financial worry. Our area is known for entering recessions late and coming out of them sooner.
However, all those big companies, six-figure jobs and our collective entrepreneurial spirit has not done much to curb the rate of bankruptcies in Wake County, the heart of the Triangle.
The Triangle Business Journal reported recently that in 2009, Wake County bankruptcies grew by almost 37 percent during the last year. The total number of filings, both personal and business, is now at its highest level since 2005, when scores of Americans filed in order to avoid strict legislative changes that added a significant number of legal hurdles to the bankruptcy code.
In October alone of that record year, 1,210 bankruptcy filings went on record in Wake County. The total for 2005 was still significantly higher than 2009's, coming in at 4,036.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of the state, which counts all areas from Wake County to the coast, reported 2,961 Wake County bankruptcies for 2009. The year prior tallied 2,170. For the entire district, the court reported 11,592 bankruptcies. A little more than half were individual Chapter 13 cases and Chapter 7 filings totaled 4,532.
There were 142 Chapter 11 business reorganization cases. Chapter 12 bankruptcy, a section of the bankruptcy code pertaining to family fishing and farming businesses, saw only five cases.
In Wake County, where growth has always been a concern, the housing market drove a number of current personal and business financial collapses. Developers, appraisal companies, real estate agents, contractors and mortgage brokers were all deeply affected by the reach of the real estate crash. Many neighborhoods around Wake County remain unfinished, showcasing empty cul-de-sacs with "available lot" signs barely visible through knee-high weed creep and vacant streets that lead to long-settled dirt mounds.
The real estate industry has seen a culling of sales professionals like never before. Many Triangle-area professionals who switched careers to latch on to the real estate sales train found themselves catching it right as the market dropped into a seemingly bottomless valley of recession.
Chief Judge of the Eastern District court, Randy Doub, attributes the rise in part to the housing industry. “Much of it is related to the downturn in the home-building industry. The trend in the filings is upward.”
Wake County, which includes Raleigh, is not the only component of the Triangle that experienced a dramatic rise in 2009 bankruptcies. Durham and Orange, which are blanketed by the Middle District, saw increases of 20.5 percent and 44 percent, respectively. Orange County includes the towns of Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.
The numbers are scary. Being on the front lines, we can clearly see that for many of Americans, not much has changed since the recession began. Jobs simply are not coming back fast enough. The more fearsome revelation is that many positions will never come back; instead, they will remain forever lost in the debris of a shattered U.S. economy.
If you're one of the many North Carolina residents struggling to find your financial footing, you need to speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Call the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt for your completely free, no-obligation debt consultation. 1-888-234-4181 or visit www.billsbills.com. Convenient offices in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville and Wilson.