Bankruptcy rates decline . . . sort of

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: From June of last year to June of this year bankruptcy filings fell by more than 9 percent. That's the smallest number since 2001. It sounds good but those figures could be misleading. Ashley Milne-Tyte explains.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Last October a new law took effect that makes it tougher to file for bankruptcy. 620,000 people rushed to file just before the deadline. Daniel Ray of Bankrate.com says that skewed the data for the year.

But, he says, that was then:
DANIEL RAY:"Now we're seeing things return to normal because the forces that are pushing people towards bankruptcy are as just as strong as they were before, maybe stronger."

The number of filings has been creeping back up. Not surprising, Ray says. Adjusted for inflation, hourly wages have fallen since 2003.

And in the next two years, he says, adjustable-rate mortgages will be reset to higher rates. That could put many household budgets under duress.

I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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