A select few cities and other public entities across the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy as they seek to pay off debts. A total of 69 municipal bankruptcy filings have occurred since 2010, mostly by special purpose districts.
Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as additional municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.
Nationally, bankrupt municipalities remain extremely rare. A Governing analysis estimated only one of every 1,668 eligible general-purpose local governments (0.06 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection from 2008 through 2012. Excluding filings later dismissed, only one of every 2,710 eligible localities (not all states permit governments to file for bankruptcy) filed since 2008.
Detroit became the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy in 2013. The majority of filings have not been submitted by bankrupt cities, but rather lesser-known public authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts throughout the country. In Omaha, Neb., more than a dozen sanitary districts have filed for bankruptcy, accounting for nearly a quarter of all Chapter 9 filings since 2010.
It's also important to note that only about half of states maintain laws authorizing municipal bankruptcy. View our bankruptcy laws map for each state's policies.
List of Bankruptcies Since January 1, 2010
All Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Filings: 69
(Includes one municipality with two separate bankruptcy filings)
General-Purpose Local Government Bankruptcy Filings: 9
-- City of Hillview, Ky. (Dismissed)
-- City of Detroit, Mich.
-- City of San Bernardino, Calif.
-- Town of Mammoth Lakes, Calf. (Dismissed)
-- City of Stockton, Calif.
-- Jefferson County, Ala.
-- City of Harrisburg, Pa. (Dismissed)
-- City of Central Falls, R.I.
-- Boise County, Idaho (Dismissed)
LAST UPDATED: March 20, 2019
Municipal Bankruptcies Map
The map below shows all municipalities filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection since 2010, along with local governments voting to approve a bankruptcy filing.
Cities, towns and counties are shown in red. Utility authorities and other municipalities are displayed in gray. Click a marker to view details of each filing. Multiple municipalities have filed for bankruptcy in some cities, such as Omaha, Neb., so not all markers are visible without zooming in on the map.
Please note that some listed municipal bankruptcy filings have been dismissed, as indicated.
Last updated: March 2019
Note: Includes filings that were later dismissed. Puerto Rico municipalities are excluded.
States without laws authorizing municipal bankruptcies often allow for different measures providing financial relief. In Michigan, seven cities and school districts have emergency managers, and another three are under consent agreements. View our map and story about the state's efforts to turn around the distressed municipalities.
Other Detroit Coverage:
Detroit Files for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy
10 People Who Could Help Save Detroit
Detroit's Recovery Plan Increases Default Risks, Says Moody's
The Motor City still has massive debt and pension obligations. Remaining independent will involve a precarious balancing act.
Nathan Bomey, author of a new book on the largest Chapter 9 filing in U.S. history, reveals the unsung heroes and true timeline of the event.
A look back at four of this year's trends in public finance.