Ohio bankruptcies fall to recent low, data shows

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- Court statistics show the number of bankruptcy filings in Ohio last year fell to the lowest total since 2006.

Experts point to several reasons for the drop, including mortgage lenders holding off foreclosure proceedings and people having so much financial trouble that they have no assets left to protect, The Akron Beacon Journal (http://bit.ly/Vlz3Yd) reported. But experts also see student loan debt driving more people into bankruptcy courts.

University of Dayton professor Jeffrey Morris, a member of the National Bankruptcy Conference, said increased awareness of rough economic conditions also may make people more cautious financially.

The roughly 50,600 personal and business bankruptcies in 2012 mark a drop of 14 percent from 2011, when there were more than 58,800, according to data from Ohio's two U.S. Bankruptcy Court districts. It's the lowest total since 2006, when about 36,000 were reported.

The Columbus region had the most, with more than 11,000 bankruptcies. In northeast Ohio, the three-county Akron area had a bit more than 4,100, and the eight-county Canton region had about 3,500, the newspaper said.

The data doesn't differentiate between personal and business filings, but increased difficulty in getting financing for new businesses also could contribute to fewer bankruptcies.

"If you can't open a new business, you can't get into financial trouble," said Marc Gertz, a lawyer in Akron who has administered thousands of bankruptcy cases.

Experts say another notable trend is an increase in frequency of cases involving parents who guaranteed their children's college loans, but file for bankruptcy when those students can't find jobs to pay the debts.

"There's so much student loan debt, and there's so little you can do about it within the confines of the bankruptcy court," Gertz said.