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Chapter 7 bankruptcy on the rise for energy sector workers

Many Ohio residents support a move away from "traditional" sources of energy production in favor of greener options. As such, the gas, coal and oil industries have entered a decline. That shift, while perhaps better for the planet as a whole, has caused a great deal of turmoil for families who have lost their source of income. Many of those affected by this shift have had to seek Chapter 7 bankruptcy in an attempt to regain their financial footing.

Jobs in oil, coal and gas have always been in flux. There have been times of great opportunity, when high-paying jobs were readily available, and times when the industry went through a down period, and jobs became scarce. However, many people view recent statistics as indicative of a slow but permanent decline in the number of jobs that will be available in the fossil fuel industry. For example, one study found that delinquencies on home and car loans have risen in an area where 6 percent of jobs are in oil and gas, while other areas do not show the same trend. Another statistic shows that personal bankruptcy is up anywhere from 8 to 17 percent in counties where gas is drilled, while nearby counties with a different employment structure saw a decrease in bankruptcy between 3 and 27 percent over the same period of time.

Many workers who lose their job in the energy sector are highly trained, but perform a job function that is limited in scope. That leaves them at a disadvantage when seeking new employment. Retraining in a new field is always an option, but doing so requires a degree of financial breathing room. In many cases, that flexibility is simply not available, and life after a job loss becomes focused exclusively on making ends meet.

For those in Ohio or elsewhere who have lost a job in the oil, gas and coal industries, seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be a good option for regaining stability. Once a measure of one's debt has been discharged, it becomes easier to seek new job training, and to begin a career path in a different industry. For the works and families affected by a decline in fossil fuel jobs, bankruptcy should be seen not as a failure, but as a tool that can be used to find a new career.

Source:, "Bankruptcies, foreclosures up in areas where gas, coal employees lost jobs", David Conti and Cheris Fleisher, June 18, 2016

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