Chart 1: Publicly Traded Companies Are Filing for Bankruptcy in Record Numbers While Overall Business Bankruptcy Filings Have Declined

Data Sources: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (Haver Analytics);

Left Scale: Number of Business Bankruptcy Filings (scale = 0 to 100,000)
Right Scale: Number of Bankruptcy Filings by Publicly Traded Companies (scale = 0 to 300)

Note: The number of business bankruptcies in 2001 is an annualized figure based on quarterly filings through the third quarter. The number of filings by publicly traded companies in 2001 reflects totals through year-end.

The time series shows annual data from 1980 to 2001 on the horizontal axis.

The vertical bars represent the number of business bankruptcy filings (left scale). This data series peaked in 1987 at 88,278 filings. After 1987, this series declined until the 1990-91 recession, after which it peaked once again in 1992 at 72,650 filings. After 1992, the number of business bankruptcies generally declined, reaching a cyclical low of 36,910 filings in 2000. Based on annualized data through the third quarter of 2001, business bankruptcies should tick slightly upward again in 2001, reaching 39,829 filings.

The line represents the number of bankruptcy filings by publicly traded companies (right scale). From 1980 to 1997, this data series experienced the same general trend as overall business bankruptcies. However, after 1997, this data series began to spike sharply upward, running counter to the downward trend in overall bankruptcy filings. In 2001, this series hit an all-time high of 257 filings, 46 percent higher than the prior year's record number of filings.