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  1. Business

Tampa Bay bankruptcy filings continue to rise

Bankruptcy filings in Florida's middle district — which includes the Tampa Bay area — rose in March for the sixth consecutive month. A total of 2,532 bankruptcy petitions were filed, 37 percent more than in February and 13 percent more than in the same month a year ago.

The biggest number of filings — 1,842 — were under Chapter 7, in which assets are liquidated to pay creditors. The second-largest number, 661, were under Chapter 13, which allows individuals and businesses to reduce some of their debts while reorganizing. One reason for the increase in filings is that consumer debt has reached its highest level in years despite a strong economy overall. Last year, 24,366 individuals and businesses filed for bankruptcy protection in Florida's middle district. Although that was far fewer than at the peak of the foreclosure crisis, it was the first year-over-year increase in filings since 2010.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.