The number of bankruptcy filings nationally rose significantly in March, according to the March 2017 Bankruptcy Trends report by Epiq Systems .
Filings in March were up 40 percent from February’s. In raw numbers, that’s a jump from a little more than 58,000 total filings to 81,590 filings. Compared directly to March of 2016, filings were also up last month. A year ago, there were 78,372 filings in March.
However, year-to-date cumulative totals remained absolutely flat. Year-to-date, there have been just shy of 193,000 filings, a flat 0 percent difference from this point a year ago, Epiq reported.
March’s totals reverse a five-year trend of total national filings for the month. Since 2011, when filings in March peaked at more than 146,000, each passing March since has seen the month’s total filings drop, until this year. However, the uptick does mirror February, which saw more filings than January after a sharp drop in filings in December.
According to Epiq’s AACER data, filings per capita, nationally, averaged 2.51 per 10,000 people in March. That’s up from 2.19 filings per 10,000 in February. Sixty-two percent of filings were 7 Ratio bankruptcies, which comprised 59 percent of filings in February.
As they have been for months, Alabama and Tennessee were again ranked first and second in the number of filings per 10,000. So far in 2017, Alabama has filed 6,966 bankruptcies, which is 5.9 filings per 10,000. That’s a 0.43 percent increase compared to last year. Tennessee filed 5.74 bankruptcies per 10,000, up just barely from the 5.23-per-capita totals from a year ago.
Though the total number of filings in Montana and Wyoming cumulative through March were comparatively few, 273 and 225, respectively, the percentage increases from February in each state were enormous. Montana saw a 168 percent rise in bankruptcy filings in March, while Wyoming saw a 157 percent spike. Maine, with 289 cumulative filings this year, saw a 112 percent rise in filings in March.
Those numbers are somewhat deceiving, however, as year-to-date filings compared to this point in 2016 for Montana and Maine were actually down, 23 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Wyoming’s filings to-date compared to last year are up 8 percent. Ironically, Maine’s drop was the largest of its kind compared to a year ago.
North Dakota again saw a percentage increase in filings compared to this time a year ago. The state reported 27 percent more filings in March than in February, which itself saw 85 percent more filings in January. Conversely, South Dakota saw a 19 percent drop over the same timeframe. Alaska saw the largest overall percentage increase compared to last year, with 51 percent.
Businesses filed 3,658 filings over 23 filing days in March. That compares to 2,797 filings in 19 filing days in February, and equates to 159 filings per day in March, compared to 150 per day in February. March’s business filings were also up from last year, when businesses filed 147 bankruptcies per day over 23 days in March.
Epiq Systems  is a leading global provider of technology-enabled solutions for electronic discovery, bankruptcy and class action administration. Top legal professionals depend on us for deep subject-matter expertise and years of firsthand experience working on many of the largest, most high-profile and complex client engagements. Epiq Systems, Inc. has locations in the United States, Europe and Asia.