April 13th, 2021


According to the latest AIS Insight Report, March bankruptcy filings totaled 43,450, reaching to the highest level in 12 months. This marks the largest month over month increase since the pandemic started in March 2020 (Figure 1). While March historically yields the highest volume of filings each year, March 2021 marked the lowest March total in over 20 years. However, this increase is worth monitoring, as rates could be slowing trending back to pre-pandemic averages (Figure 2).

Figure 1 

Figure 2

Our analysis of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies reveals that numbers are continuing to climb to traditional averages. Overall, we saw year-over-year decreases. However, we also observed large month-over-month increases (Figure 3-5).

Figure 3 

Figure 4 

Figure 5

For the month of March 2021, Chapter 11 filings totaled 452 (Figure 6). When compared to February 2021, we observed a 5% decrease (Figure 6). Furthermore, when comparing filings to March 2020, we observed a 24% decrease (Figures 6-8). On the other hand, Chapter 11, Subchapter V bankruptcies spiked to 193. This reveals a 45% increase as compared to last month and the largest number of Subchapter V filings to date (Figure 8).

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

The highest percentage of bankruptcies for March 2021 came from the South (East) (27%) followed by North Central (East) (21%), Pacific (15%), South (West) (14%), Northeast (11%), Mountain (6%) and North Central (West) (6%) regions of the country (Figure 9).

Figure 9

Lastly, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act into law, which will extend provisions providing financially distressed consumers and small businesses greater access to relief. This Act will extend relief to 2022. Key bankruptcy provisions covered in the Act include:

  • The increased eligibility threshold of the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA) for businesses filing under subchapter V of chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code from $2,725,625 of debt to $7,500,000.
  • Amending the definition of “income” in the Bankruptcy Code for chapters 7 and 13 to exclude coronavirus-related payments from the federal government from being treated as “income” for purposes of filing bankruptcy.
  • Stating that for the purpose of confirming a Chapter 13 plan that the calculation of disposable income should not include coronavirus related payments.
  • Permitting individuals and families in Chapter 13 bankruptcy to seek plan modifications should they be facing a material financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. This includes extending payments for up to seven years after the initial plan payment was due.

We will continue to provide timely information and data as it is available.

The AIS Insight Report Blog is a proprietary report created by AIS using data derived sole from information obtained by the Federal Bankruptcy Court System and the latest in bankruptcy analytical tools. To download the full April Insight Report, click here.