Despite alterations to Chapter 7 laws in the United States, petitions for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 by individuals and business are the most common year after year. In fact, Chapter 7 applications dwarf the numbers of all other forms of business-related and non-business-related bankruptcy applications (i.e. Chapter 11, 12 and 13 bankruptcy), which to be fair, is partially attributable to the inclusiveness of Chapter 7 law of both private citizens and corporate entities.
All the same, the fact that numbers have increased from year to year, and at increasingly high rates, are somewhat worrisome. Between total filings for Chapter 7 between fiscal years 2008 and 2009, figures rose from the 600,000s to close to a million between companies and non-companies.
With all the inclusiveness of Chapter 7 laws relating to whether single parties or groups are eligible, the statistical differences between these groups are more consistent and make sense given the nature of Chapter 7 law and the fact that individuals are mathematically more likely to petition than whole businesses. In the calendar year 2008, non-business filings represented roughly 96% of all bankruptcy filings in the United States.
Meanwhile, in 2007, non-business filings comprised 97% of all petitions, and that number is rounded up to the nearest integer. In other words, this percentage is comparatively much smaller than the spikes in overall application rates.
As for regional differences in data, individual state Chapter 7 laws would be expected to have an impact on results. Aside from Chapter 7 law, though, the size of the region and the socioeconomic status (which may be heavily tied to racial composition) of the populace may have a lot to do with district-to-district disparities.
In any event, as of fiscal year 2009 and as reported by the U.S. Court system, the bankruptcy court circuit with the most applications at over 240,000 per year is the Ninth Circuit, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. As for the lowest, it is the First District, made up of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, as well as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.