The number of people applying for bankruptcy rose for the second consecutive month in June. The Official Receiver's Office reported 1,069 people filed for personal bankruptcy last month, a 2 per cent rise over the 1,048 filed in May. The filings, also known as petitions, are an indicator of the number of future bankruptcies because they usually take several months to wind their way through the courts. So far this year, bankruptcy filings have hovered at about the same level, ranging from a low of 983 in April to a high of 1,296 in March. The figures may reflect the persistence of relatively high unemployment since last year's improvement in labour market conditions. The three-month seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell in May to 7 per cent from a record high of 8.7 per cent last July, but many economists do not expect the rate to drop much further unless structural problems in Hong Kong's economy are fixed. They do not expect the unemployment rate to have fallen much below 5 per cent by the end of the year. The number of bankruptcies granted last month also rose to 1,260, about a fifth higher than the 1,042 granted in May. This year, 8,124 people have been declared bankrupt, about half the number at the same time last year. The 6,607 bankruptcy petitions presented this year are also about half the number recorded for the same period last year. Bankruptcies in Hong Kong soared in 2002 and early last year as the economy crashed, pushing people out of work. Many turned to credit cards and racked up large debts, forcing them into bankruptcy. But as the economy has improved, so have the bankruptcy figures.