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Graph 3. Even before Americans began losing their jobs, they were flocking to bankruptcy courts in record numbers -- at an annual rate of over 1.56 billion in the first half of 2001. Under a bill pending Senate approval, it would become harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy. But critics claim that the bill would be unfair to people who find themselves under a mountain of debt through no fault of their own as a result of medical claims and job losses. No matter what Congress does, with unemployment surging, personal bankruptcies could easily top 2 million in 2002. Data: American Bankruptcy Institute.