Hawaii bankruptcy filings decrease despite virus pandemic

HONOLULU — The number of Hawaii bankruptcy filings fell in September despite the state’s ongoing economic struggle because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that data from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Hawaii, indicates filings declined 10.7% in September to 125 from 140 the previous year.

The number of cases in the bankruptcy court fell in seven of nine months this year. Filings were down 8.1% to 1,149 from 1,250 during the same period in 2019.

Bankruptcies fell in three of the four major counties. Honolulu County filings decreased to 91 from 101, Hawaii County filings dropped to seven from 11 and filings in Kauai County fell to four from five. Maui County filings remained the same at 23.

During the last recession, 3,101 bankruptcy cases were filed in 2009 and 3,954 cases were filed in 2010, said Eugene Tian, chief economist for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“Though bankruptcies rise during economic recessions, it is different this time,” Tian said. “I think the decrease is mainly because of the federal assistance programs.

Rental and mortgage assistance programs remain in place, Tian said.

The possibility of additional federal aid may be another reason people are holding off filing for bankruptcy, Tian said.

“As of this week, a total of over $10 billion in federal money was allocated to Hawaii,” Tian said. “This greatly helped the people and businesses in Hawaii during this difficult time.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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