The number of bankruptcies in Washington state dropped in May, the first monthly decline since the beginning of the year.

The number of bankruptcies in Washington state dropped in May, the first monthly decline since the beginning of the year.

There were 2,570 bankruptcy filings last month, down from 2,735 in April but nearly 50 percent more than a year ago.

So far this year, more than 12,000 people have declared bankruptcy in Washington, as high unemployment, a depressed housing market and tight credit have made it harder for families to pay their bills.

Washington ranked ninth among the states in May in the annual per capita increase in bankruptcy filings, according to AACER, a bankruptcy-data and management firm. The state ranked 22nd in per capita filings.

Although businesses comprise a tiny fraction of the bankruptcy filings, court statistics show they are in distress as well. Eighty-one businesses in Western Washington sought bankruptcy protection from creditors last month, about twice as many as a year ago.

While bankruptcies fell last month statewide, King, Pierce and Clark counties continue to see filings climb or stay steady. Filings declined in Snohomish County.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com