Is the Milwaukee Area a Hotspot for Bankruptcies?

Milwaukee Area Still A Hot Spot For Bankruptcies

The number of bankruptcies filed across the country continues to decline, but in the Milwaukee area, a lot of families and businesses are still in distress.

Thanks to the Great Recession, more bankruptcies were filed in 2010 than in any other year. Since that year, the number of bankruptcies filed each year have declined, including in 2017. The latest data from the Administrative Office of the Courts reveals 789,020 cases were filed in 2017, compared with 794,960 in the previous year. This number of bankruptcy filings is the lowest for any calendar year since 2006, and the seventh consecutive calendar year that filings have fallen. However, this is a decline of just 0.7 percent from 2016, the smallest year over year decline since the 2010 peak.

The tables below provide a snapshot comparison of 2017 and the previous few years, and a breakdown of filings by Chapter by year. Remember, Chapter 7 is a “clean-slate” bankruptcy for individuals, families, and businesses, where debts are wiped away. Chapter 11 gives businesses the opportunity to restructure their businesses, while Chapter 12 is for farmers. Chapter 13 is a repayment plan bankruptcy for individuals and families that allows many filers to get caught up on their bills over a period of 3 to 5 years.

BUSINESS AND NON-BUSINESS FILINGS,
YEARS ENDING
DECEMBER 31, 2013-2017
Year Business Non-business Total
2017 23,157 765,863 789,020
2016 24,114 770,846 794,960
2015 24,735 819,760 844,495
2014 26,983 909,812 936,795
2013 33,212 1,038,720 1,071,932

 

TOTAL BANKRUPTCY FILINGS BY CHAPTER
YEARS ENDING
DECEMBER 31, 2013-2017
Year Chapter
  7 11 12 13
2017 486,347 7,442 501 294,637
2016 490,365 7,292 461 296,655
2015 535,047 7,241 407 301,705
2014 619,069 7,234 361 310,061
2013 728,833 8,980 395 333,626

Personal bankruptcies continue to outpace business bankruptcies, and there are still more Chapter 7 cases than any other type of case despite the fact that Congress attempted to push people toward Chapter 13 the last time they made changes to the bankruptcy code.

Although the number of bankruptcies are falling across the country, there are still a disproportionately large number of cases being filed in the Milwaukee area.

The table below summarizes the data on bankruptcies in the Milwaukee area and statewide in 2017 by chapter.

TOTAL BANKRUPTCY FILINGS IN THE MILWAUKEE AREA
FOR THE YEAR ENDING

DECEMBER 31, 2017 BY CHAPTER

County Chapter Total
  7 11 12 13
Milwaukee 3,935 3 0 2,646 6,584
Ozaukee 109 1 0 48 158
Racine 447 1 0 265 713
Sheboygan 204 0 0 46 250
Waukesha 508 2 1 334 845
Statewide 12,041 37 45 5,006 17,129

As you can see, almost half of the bankruptcies filed in Wisconsin are filed in the Milwaukee area. Our area is just not recovering as quickly from the Great Recession as the rest of the state and the country as a whole. This is frustrating, but it should also be viewed as a sign to people in the area that are struggling with financial issues that they are not alone – our entire region is struggling.