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Hawaii bankruptcy filings continue to tick downward

Hawaii bankruptcies continue to decrease even as individuals and businesses struggle to make ends meet in the slowing economy.

The number of filings declined 10.7% in September to 125 from 140 in the year- earlier period, according to new data from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Hawaii. The number of cases have now fallen seven of the nine months this year.

Year to date through September, bankruptcy filings were down 8.1% to 1,149 from 1,250 during the same period in 2019.

“Though bankruptcies rise during economic recessions, it is different this time,” said Eugene Tian, chief economist for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “I think the decrease is mainly because of the federal assistance programs. We still have the rental and the mortgage assistance programs in place. That is the most important part.”

There has been renewed talk that Congress still may be able to come to an agreement on fiscal stimulus that could provide additional weekly payment besides the regular unemployment benefits. One-time stimulus checks also are under discussion.

Tian said that possibility of additional federal aid may be another reason people are holding off filing for bankruptcy.

“I think people are expecting there will be more assistance coming,” he said. “That may be one of the major reasons bankruptcy filings are low. During the last recession, 3,101 bankruptcy cases were filed in 2009 and 3,954 cases were filed in 2010. As of this week, a total of over $10 billion in federal money was allocated to Hawaii. This greatly helped the people and businesses in Hawaii during this difficult time.”

In July, Chapter 7 liquidation filings — the most common type of bankruptcy — edged up by just one to 96 from 95 in the year-earlier period.

Chapter 13 filings, which allow individuals with regular sources of income to set up plans to make installment payments to creditors over three to five years, dropped 37.8% to 28 from 45.

There was one Chapter 11 reorganization filing last month compared with none in the year-earlier period. The Chapter 11 filing was by R&H Machinery Inc. of Kapolei.

Bankruptcies fell in three of the four major counties. Honolulu County filings fell to 91 from 101, Hawaii County filings dropped to seven from 11 and Kauai County filings ticked down to four from five. Maui County filings remained at 23.

SEEKING RELIEF

Bankruptcy filings in September fell from a year ago.

2020 2019 PCT. CHANGE

Chapter 7 96 95 1.1%

Liquidation

Chapter 11 1 0 —

Business reorganization

Chapter 13 28 45 -37.8%

Individuals with regular sources of income set up plans to pay creditors over time

Total 125 140 -10.7%

Source: U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Hawaii

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