The number of bankruptcy filings fluctuates over time. For example, filings went way up around the 2008 financial crisis and has slowly dropped off as the economy recovers, It also varies by geographic location; some areas struggle more financially than others or face seasonal financial issues. States in the south generally have higher rates of bankruptcy filings – residents there have historically had lower credit scores and the entire area struggles more financially than other parts of the country.
This year, Ohio’s bankruptcy rates come as something of a surprise – we’re in the top 10 for the highest percentage of bankruptcy filings in the country.
Ohio Bankruptcy Statistics In 2016
In a recent study, Nerdwallet analyzed bankruptcy filings in each state between April of 2015 and March of 2016. They found that the median bankruptcy rate across the country is 224 per 100,000 people – Ohio has 322 filings per 100,000 people. That made for a total of 37,402 personal bankruptcies in Ohio over that year.
The study also tracked bankruptcy filings at a smaller scale, analyzing the number of filings in counties with populations greater than 100,000 people. In Ohio, Cuyahoga County had the most filings out of any of the measured counties in Ohio – 444 per 100,000 people. That puts it at 53rd out of the 587 counties in the country with more than 100,000 residents. Three other Ohio counties were among the top 100: Summit with 407 per 100,000 people, Mahoning with 407, and Montgomery with 392 – that means Dayton.
Ohio isn’t alone in the midwest – Illinois and Indiana also make the top 10 states with the most filings. Otherwise, 6 of the top 10 are in the South and Utah rounds out the set.
Why Are There So Many Bankruptcies In Ohio?
Everyone was hit hard by the Great Recession, and the Midwest took a particularly big hit. The region has also recovered more slowly than other areas of the country. Ohio still has an unemployment rate that’s slightly higher than the national rate – 5% vs. 4.9%. And Ohio’s median income is lower than the national median – $48,849 vs. $53,482.
In other words, the Ohio economy is still lagging a bit behind the national economy. We’re still recovering from 2008 and a slow manufacturing sector have caused further economic troubles. In addition, Ohio has low population growth, which makes for weaker growth of the economy.
The good news is that Ohio is growing faster than any other state in the Midwest – the economy grew by 2.1% in 2014, compared to the US growth rate of 2.2%.
What Should I Do If I’m Struggling With Debt?
The good news is that you’re not alone. Lots of us here in Ohio have a hard time paying the bills – sometimes there just isn’t enough money to go around. And there are lots of steps you can take to make your finances more manageable.
First, it’s a good idea to reach out to your creditors if you’re struggling. They would much rather have you keep paying than go through the trouble of suing you for collection, repossessing your property, or foreclosing. Let them know that you’re having financial troubles and ask them what your options are for making your payments easier – a lower interest rate or a deferment on a couple of a payments, for example. You may even be able to settle your debt by offering a lump sum payment for less than you owe. This goes for your mortgage and auto debt, credit card debt, and medical debt.
If you’re struggling with student loan debt, you also have lots of options for making payment easier. The federal government offers a number of repayment plans based on your income and you can switch to one of those plans at any time, as long as your account is current. So if you know you’re going to fall behind, that’s something you should address right away.
Finally, you may want to consider a bankruptcy. As you can see, lots of people end up needing that financial protection. We all struggled through 2008 and sometimes it takes a serious move to get back on your feet. Bankruptcy can wipe out your unsecured debts and you’ll often be able to keep all of your property – it’s a powerful tool for resetting your finances.
The Bottom Line
Ohio is struggling to catch up with the rest of the country, but we’re going to get there. We’re a great state full of honest, hardworking people and we’ll continue to grow and prosper. We were hit hard in 2008 and that means many of us will need some help getting all the way back onto our feet – that’s why the bankruptcy laws exist. If you’re struggling with debt, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation to learn about your options for dealing with it.
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