Hawaii Hits 5-Year High Mark With Increase In Bankruptcies

Jan 7, 2020

The number of bankruptcies in Hawaii rose for the second straight year in 2019, records showed.

There were 1,666 bankruptcy cases for the year, up 11.8% from 1,490 in 2018, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

The data released Thursday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Hawaii showed the 2019 mark was the highest since the state's 1,702 bankruptcy filings in 2014.

The number of 2019 bankruptcies was less than half of the post- recession peak of 3,954 in 2010.

The state's high cost of living is taking a toll on residents, with only a limited number of people benefiting from the rising stock market, said Ed Magauran, a Honolulu bankruptcy attorney.

“I don’t think there has been any change in the number of people who have not paid their debt,” Magauran said.

“As usual, the bottom 95% continue to suffer. The stock market’s up unbelievable, but the people making money are the top 5% who are owners of public corporations,” Magauran said. "The other 95% are not making anything, and the last time I checked, in Hawaii a family with two children needs at least three jobs.”

There were 1,135 Chapter 7 liquidation filings in 2019, up 12.8% from 1,006 in 2018.

Chapter 13 filings, which allow individuals with regular sources of income to set up plans to make installment payments to creditors over three to five years, rose 7.5% from 481 to 517.

Chapter 11 reorganization filings, which are primarily for business reorganizations, rose from three to 13.

By county, Honolulu filings rose from 1,093 to 1,238, Maui filings increased from 203 to 221 and Kauai filings rose from 60 to 74. Hawaii island filings decreased by one, from 134 to 133.

Bankruptcies rose in December in all four major counties.