Howard County Has High Bankruptcy Rate
Attorney William Daily, who files bankruptcy applications in Howard County, said he noticed more filings over the past few years, but he didn't realize how much they had increased.
"I, frankly, am surprised," he said. "There's not a lot of industry. Some of the industry we've had we've lost in the last several years. A lot of good-paying jobs have disappeared."
Howard County's bankruptcy filing rate almost doubled Missouri's second-highest rate, in the city of St. Louis. Missouri's median rate is just less than seven cases per 1,000 residents. The only other area in the U.S. with a rate higher than 20 was Memphis, Tenn. Between 2002 and 2005, Howard County's filing rate jumped 800 percent, compared to 29 percent statewide.
One explanation could be more restrictive bankruptcy laws which took effect near the end of 2005.
"In my business, I had a substantial increase of people inquiring about bankruptcy, and then actually taking bankruptcy, because of that law change," Daily said, while adding that he's seen a decrease in cases filed since last year's change in the law. Daily also said the higher numbers may have been a result of cases that crossed county lines because of the convenience of filing in Howard County.
"I believe that those people have been filing as if they were residents of Howard County," he said. "And that's something which the courts, frankly, have permitted."
Because of those factors, Daily suggested looking at the numbers over the next two years might better explain why Howard County's bankruptcy filing rate is so high.