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New Hampshire posts record low number of bankruptcy filings in June

Shoppers, some wearing protective masks, wait in line May 14, 2020, outside a Home Depot store in Londonderry, N.H.

(The Center Square) – Even with high unemployment brought on by the COVID-19 economic decline, New Hampshire registered a record low in bankruptcy filings last month.

A total of 81 bankruptcies were filed in June, the third consecutive month with only double-digit figures. It’s the lowest amount since 1988, and a 42 percent decrease from the same month last year.

“The numbers are stunning,” Malcolm P. Blackwood, a Manchester bankruptcy attorney, told the New Hampshire Business Review.

Blackwood said programs designed to stem the impact of the coronavirus financial downturn – like the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit – mean more people have cash on hand. Mandated closures and shelter-in-place orders also have meant there is less opportunity to spend the money.

Businesses also have been helped by the Paycheck Protection Program.

Moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions similarly have prevented a detrimental wave of filings in the housing sector.

“We throw all this money out there, and we are not just flattening the curve of the virus, we are definitely flattening the curve of economic calamity. We are running on free money,” Blackwood said.

With such programs eventually set to expire, the outlook could change in another six months or so.

And several big-name national retailers, already struggling before the downturn, have had to file for bankruptcy protection as the pandemic drove down sales, including Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, and J. Crew.

The rental car company, Hertz, the restaurant chain, Chuck E Cheese, and a number of major oil and gas producers also have filed for bankruptcy protection.

In New Hampshire last month, there were two bankruptcy cases that involved business-related debt, down from three in May. One was an individual filing.

The other was by the Bedford-based company, Strikes and Gutters Ups and Downs LLC, dba CPR Cell Phone Repair. That June 15 filing, under Chapter 7, reported assets of $13,615 and liabilities of $208,811.

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