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Bankruptcy Filings fall 6%

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The number of Americans filing for bankruptcy dropped 6% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the previous year, two industry groups said Monday.

The number of filings in the first three months of 2011 dropped to 340,012, down from 363,215 filings recorded in the first quarter of 2010, according to data from the American Bankruptcy Institute and the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

“Though bankruptcy filings are still elevated, consumers continue to take steps to reduce debt levels and shore up their finances,” said ABI Executive Director Samuel Gerdano said in a statement.

Bottom line: the sharp increase in bankruptcy levels in recent years might be starting to level off, and maybe even decrease.

Personal bankruptcy filings had been climbing steadily since 2007, when the U.S. fell into a deep recession that has left millions of Americans unemployed.

“[W]e now expect that consumer bankruptcy filings will dip below the 1.5 million filings recorded last year,” Gerdano said.

In 2005 Congress amended the Bankruptcy Code, making it harder for Americans to file and sparking a rush to file by October of 2005, when the amendments kicked in. In 2005, bankruptcy filings totaled more than 2 million.

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