Who’s going bankrupt?

Every few days, I go to the Web site for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District and see who’s filed bankruptcy. I’m surprised at how often I recognize the names, not just of businesses, but also of people. It’s seen as “negative” news when circumstance, bad fortune or poor choices (and we never know which) leads one to go the bankruptcy route. Sometimes it’s seen as a failure, other times a fresh start.

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, in 2001, there were 153,659 filings of bankruptcy in California, with 96.6 percent of those being consumer filings. Also note that, as of Dec. 16, 2002, the creditors’ meetings for all Chapter 7 cases originating in Butte County will be held in Redding, not Sacramento.

I’ve been curious to discover if there are any patterns to who in Chico is filing for bankruptcy—social class, neighborhood they live in, etc. So I ran the statistics for the month of December 2002.

• Of the 33 filings made by Chico residents in December, all were consumer bankruptcies, no businesses. I did recognize the names of two separate business owners filing for personal bankruptcy, however.

• Seventeen bankruptcies were filed as couples. Sixteen filed singly. Of those, six were men and 10 were women.

• Twelve lived in apartments, or perhaps condos or houses with numbers at the end. Two listed post office boxes as their address.

• The people were scattered all over town: in neighborhoods with pricey houses, in old Chico neighborhoods and in new developments both affluent and entry-level.