Bankruptcy filings are most common in three Southern states and other relatively poor areas, according to a recent analysis by Lexington Law, which specializes in credit cases. Kansas fared better than the national average and Missouri worse, the report said.
The report took each county’s number of bankruptcy filings, business and personal, for the 12 months from April 2014 through March 2015. It then divided those numbers by each area’s population to get the number of bankruptcy filings per 10,000 residents.
The national average was 26.7 filings per 10,000 residents, more than Kansas’ 25.6 and less than Missouri’s 34.2. The three worst states were Tennessee (56.9), Georgia (52.6) and Alabama (51.1).
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Among metro area counties, Platte (22.6), Leavenworth (22.9), Johnson (23), Miami (24.4) and Cass (25.6) also did better than average. Wyandotte (40.7), Jackson (39.6) and Clay (32.3) were worse.
Across Missouri, St. Louis city (88) had twice as many filings per 10,000 residents as St. Louis County (42.1), which also was worse than the Kansas City area’s worst county.
Lexington Law noted that, although poorer areas and lower-income brackets did have higher rates of bankruptcy filings, no state or economic segment was immune from bad luck, careless overspending, or being overwhelmed by medical bills — still the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Indeed, the states with the lowest filing rates — Alaska (5.74) and North Dakota (9.1) — weren’t havens for the wealthy. But Alaska has energy wealth that’s shared with the state’s residents, and North Dakota is known for low unemployment. Its shale oil boom has abated, however, so it will be interesting to see if its bankruptcy filings are up in the future.