National numbers down but little change in Chicago
In 2016, there were 294,396 personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S., down from 299,515 in 2015 and 307,783 in 2014. This includes 40,774 personal bankruptcy filings in Chicago in 2016, slightly down from 43,534 in 2015 and 40,774 in 2014. But the 11,194 cases filed in the first quarter of 2017 are only 93 fewer than in the first quarter of 2016.
Why are there still over 40,000 personal bankruptcy cases filed in the Chicago area each year?
Because too many people still have more bills than money. While the unemployment rate, dipping under 5% is relatively low, large corporations are still announcing mass layoffs, many people are underemployed and wages are stagnant. Unexpected medical bills can be catastrophic on the family budget, insurance doesn’t pay until large deductibles are met, and staggering student loan payments can weigh people down for decades. I’ve met many college-educated people who can’t find work in their educational field, working menial jobs just to survive.
Also, some people continue to make poor choices, running up large credit card balances with high interest rates, taking out high-interest loans on new cars they don’t need, carrying large mortgage payments on homes they can’t afford and falling to other vices, like alcohol, tobacco and gambling that deplete meager paychecks. Once they default on their payment obligations, collectors, attorneys, lawsuits, garnishments, evictions and foreclosures often follow.
For these people, a bankruptcy filing to stop creditor action, and lead to a Discharge of Debtor or a Plan to repay a percentage of debt over time, can provide welcome relief.
If you are struggling to meet your financial obligations, call the Martucci Law Office today at 630-980-8333 to schedule your free initial office consultation with attorney Greg Martucci. Learn more about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 options and how to protect your assets from creditors under the Bankruptcy Code.