During the pandemic Whatcom bankruptcy filings have tumbled to record lows. Here’s why

Despite plenty of pandemic-related shocks to the Whatcom economy, bankruptcy filings in 2021 set a record low. Last year, 155 bankruptcies of all chapters were filed in Whatcom County, according to data from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District of Washington in Seattle. That’s down 25% from the 2020 total and down 47% compared to the pre-pandemic 2019. This drop in filings for Whatcom County follows state and national trends the past two years. Last year’s total was the lowest in Whatcom County since 2005’s major changes to bankruptcy rules. The peak year was in 2010, when 808 bankruptcy filings were tallied.

With so much disruption in the labor market, particularly with pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions, how were bankruptcy filings avoided? It appears the federal stimulus money, moratoriums on evictions and freezes on things like student loans helped, said Hart Hodges, co-director at the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University.

A drop in extra spending shows up in data, said James McCafferty, also co-director at Western’s research center.