U.S. consumers and businesses are filing for bankruptcy at a pace that made 2009 the seventh-worst year on record, with more than 1.4 million petitions submitted.
An Associated Press tally found 1.43 million filings, an increase of 32 percent from the previous year. There were 116,000 recorded bankruptcies in December, up 22 percent from the same month a year before.
Filings have been rising steadily each year since the beginning of 2006, shortly after Congress overhauled the U.S. bankruptcy system.
Bankruptcies surged to around 2 million in 2005 as consumers rushed to file before the new law took effect but then plummeted in 2006. They've been climbing ever since.
The West saw a particularly fast rise in 2009, with Arizona jumping 77 percent and Wyoming up 60 percent from 2008.