As a consumer bankruptcy specialist, I always do my best to stay on top of the news – world news, national news, and particularly news that directly affects citizens of our state. There’s certainly been no shortage of important news lately. Today I want to highlight two stories that may seem like “tidbits” in the big picture of things, but I think they could be big for Hoosiers, and especially favorable for my Indiana bankruptcy clients.

On Thursday, July 24, Step #2 kicked in. I’m talking about the three-step minimum wage hike. The federal minimum wage jumped 70 cents to $6.55 an hour. Big yawn, you think? Think again. First of all, last summer’s Step #1 increase from $5.15 an hour was the first increase in more than ten years. True, not very many workers earn only minimum wage (only 36,000 in all of Indiana, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Critics say employers will simply hire fewer workers or hire illegal ones. What I see, though, is a general trend towards higher wages that favors the more educated and better-trained workers. This trend will work in favor of bankruptcy or foreclosure clients who are trying to make a fresh start and keep up with debt repayment plans.

The second tidbit comes in the form of kudos for our Hoosier state. For the first time in history, Indiana has earned a Standard and Poor’s top credit score rating. Given the flood damage and housing problems and job layoffs we’ve had, this is just an amazing accomplishment. As a state, we will save millions of dollars a year in bond interest. This will help our public school systems, in addition to helping speed up paying for the Lucas Oil Stadium, and it basically means more money can be devoted to all programs run by the state. Indiana, by the way, was one of only nine states to earn this high a rating.

I’ve said this many times before, and it bears repeating: The most important chapter of any bankruptcy story is the sequel, the part where people rebuild their lives. I’m no economist (as I’ve also noted before), but I can see that both these two news tidbits could mean big (and good) things for my bankruptcy clients in Indiana.