The increase is most visible among large companies, where there were 236 bankruptcy filings in the first four months of this year, more than double 2022 levels, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Several large recognizable companies with hundreds or thousands of workers have filed for bankruptcy protection in recent weeks, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Vice Media, although their financial troubles predated the recent economic turmoil.
Among all types of companies, large and small, the increase in bankruptcies is much more muted, with filings remaining below pre-pandemic levels and historic norms, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. The total numbers are still "very, very low," he said.
Yet filings are creeping up as interest rates rise, pandemic-era government support dries up and sales growth slows amid a cooling economy.
"The era of low interest rates and pandemic-related government support programs helped keep companies afloat that may have otherwise had few other options," S&P analysts said of their large-company data. "Now that interest rates are back to pre-Great Recession levels and pandemic support programs are largely over, we're seeing a fresh uptick in a possible sign that companies are running out of time."