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Consumers battling debt and bankruptcy

New poll shows job loss, pay cuts also contributed to record personal filings Suffocating credit card debt, a job loss or a pay cut were the top reasons people declared bankruptcy last year, according to a new poll.

About 63 percent of those surveyed cited credit-card problems while 38 percent blamed a job loss or a pay cut, according to the CNN/USA Today Gallup Poll released Monday.

The poll examined the causes behind a record 1.1 million people declaring bankruptcy in 1996. The results were based on telephone interviews with 522 people who went broke last year.

“When people start spending and the economy booms, then the number of bankruptcies goes up,” said Samuel Gerdano, executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, a non-profit research group in Alexandria, Va. “That’s the dark side of a good economy.”

t people surveyed said they filed for bankruptcy as a last resort. They were saddled with an average of $47,000 in debt, the poll found.

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