That is the amount of increase in bankruptcy filings that the middle district of Florida has experienced compared to last year. In total 16,149 were filed in the middle district and that includes the Orlando and Tampa Bay areas, and in the process has become the second busiest bankruptcy court in the country only behind California's central district.
The news does not improve as many experts believe that this is the beginning of a steady climb that will only see a peak within the next eighteen months. While it may seem gloomy that bankruptcy filings are only going to get worse, it should be noted that bankruptcy filings serve as lagging indicator of economic recovery. So, while the rest of the central Florida economy may have turned a corner, it will take a year or two for that change to be reflected in bankruptcy.
Separating between business and personal bankruptcies, the hardest hit on the business side has been construction, home builders, retailers and restaurants. The figures have also shown that normally resilient business, like fast food establishments, have been filing in record numbers. On the personal bankruptcy side of the coin, the biggest driving force has been the deflated housing market, which accounts for almost 75% of all personal bankruptcies.
While the percentage of filings from last year is startling, it is when you look at figures from four years ago that one can see how bad things have gotten in central Florida. Taking Tampa as an example in 2006 total bankruptcy filings came in at 1,400, those numbers increased by almost two thousand each year to the point we are now where bankruptcy filings come in at 7,810.
With all of these figures being thrown about, the one source of hope is that banks are starting to lend again. This lending may be at a modest level, but it does bode well for decreasing the amount of bankruptcies being filed in the central district of Florida.