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First a degree, then Chapter 7

As if the job market were not hard enough for recent college graduates, now comes news of another potential pitfall — bankruptcy.

The number of people with bachelor’s degrees filing for bankruptcy jumped more than 20 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to a report released Tuesday by Institute for Financial Literacy.

But there is a silver lining for the Class of 2011. The rate of bankruptcy filings by Americans age 34 and younger dropped 30 percent between 2006 and 2010, while the rate of filings for people over 45 increased 19 percent.

“Perhaps one impact of the recession may be that fewer young people find themselves in bankruptcy,” the report states. “Is this due to better fiscal management or less access to credit?”

A similar pattern played out when looking at bankruptcies based on income. The number of bankruptcy filers making $60,000 or more increased from 5.5 percent in 2006 to more than 9 percent last year. The percentage of bankruptcy filers making $40,000 or less, by contrast, dropped from 80 percent to under 74 percent during that same period.

What bankruptcy figures will look like this year remains to be seen. The Washington Post reported Tuesday the number of people filing for bankruptcy for the year ending in June dropped 2 percent compared to the previous year, and filings in August were down 11 percent compared to August 2010.