From the Record:
Consumer bankruptcies in New Jersey fell 6 percent last year, bringing the figure to about the same as in the first year of the recession and offering another sign that the economy is strengthening.
The number of business bankruptcies in the state dropped by 25 percent in 2015, according to data just released by U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Newark. The annual total of 718 business bankruptcies was nearly 14 percent lower than in 2007, the last year before the recession.
Business bankruptcies in Bergen County declined about 1 percent in 2015, while consumer bankruptcies fell 6 percent. Consumer bankruptcies slid 2 percent in Passaic County; the number of business bankruptcies in the county rose slightly.
North Jersey bankruptcies in 2015 included MCD Sports, the owner of bowling alley Parkway Lanes in Elmwood Park, and Marburn Stores, the small Fairview-based chain of home-furnishing stores, both of which filed for Chapter 11. Les Metalliers Chamennis Corp., a Paterson welding company whose high-profile work included renovating the Statue of Liberty’s 13-foot bronzed torch and flame, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation.
Bankruptcy attorneys said one reason for the decline statewide was the improving economy. However, they warned that the backlog of home foreclosures in state courts will ensure there are numerous bankruptcies still to come.
“The economy has marginally rebuilt itself,” said Ron Levine, a Hackensack bankruptcy attorney. “Unemployment is much lower than it used to be.”
That’s helped stop consumers and businesses from having to turn to bankruptcy, he said. Furthermore, he added, “banks have been more diligent in giving out credit after the [economic] crash,” reducing the likelihood lenders will get in over their heads.
Bankruptcy filings will stay at elevated levels until foreclosures diminish, the attorneys said. Although the number of new lender foreclosure filings — not including condominiums — fell 27 percent in 2015 to 35,733, the number is still high, and that fuels the bankruptcy figures, as borrowers seek refuge from foreclosure in the Bankruptcy Court.