The number of small business bankruptcies has dropped for the fifth consecutive quarter, according to a new study.

The study, by credit scoring service Equifax, showed that small business bankruptcy filings have declined more than 11 percent in the third quarter of this year and decreased nearly 19 percent since their peak in the second quarter of 2009.

Analysis from the Equifax study shows that the number of small business bankruptcy filings peaked at 37,299 during Q2 2009, compared to 30,392 during Q3 2010. There were 34,257 bankruptcies in Q3 2009.

“For more than a year, we have seen a decline in the number of small business bankruptcies but this is the biggest percentage decrease during that period,” said Equifax Commercial Information Solutions senior vice president Dr. Reza Barazesh. “Small businesses are still having a tough time.  But the numbers are beginning to indicate that some of the stresses may be abating.”

For its quarterly study, Equifax analyzed Chapter 7, 11 and 13 filings as well as its data on the more than 24 million small businesses in the U.S. The company considers commercial enterprises with 100 employees or less as a small business.

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