Commentary: Bankruptcy rates reconfirm troubles in California's Central Valley

This editorial appeared in The Modesto Bee.

Bankruptcy filings in the Central Valley last year confirm what residents have witnessed firsthand. The economic downturn has staggered the region, and its impacts echo throughout businesses, neighborhoods and families.

A new report says bankruptcy filings increased 83 percent in 2008 in the region that includes Fresno, Modesto and Sacramento. The report for the Eastern District of California shows the increases for this federal judicial district was the second-highest in the nation. The Eastern District trailed only the district centered in Los Angeles County.

Bankruptcy courts have been seeing people seeking shelter from home foreclosures, job losses and other financial calamities.

These cases mirror what we are told by the state's Employment Development Department, which saw January jobless claims increase 89 percent over January 2008.

The downward spiral often begins with residents becoming overextended on credit card debt, then breadwinners lose their jobs and mortgage payments mount and foreclosure begins. Once that occurs, many residents see bankruptcy as their only way out.

This economy will turn, although it may not be soon enough for many businesses and the workers who rely on the jobs they provide.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Modesto Bee.