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Darts and laurels

Dart to recent reports of a significant increase in uninsured motorists in North Carolina and across the nation. According to an article in the current edition of “Go” magazine, published by AAA, the Insurance Research Council estimates that 14.8 percent of N.C. drivers are uninsured, and that number is projected to rise to 18 percent over the next year. The reason: Higher rates of unemployment mean that more drivers are letting their car insurance policies lapse, even though state law requires them to carry the policies. While those who drive without insurance are courting disaster, it also affects those who maintain their policies. As more insured drivers are on the road, this could lead to future rate increases for others, since insurance companies will have to cover the added costs of those not paying into the system. It also means motorists should doublecheck their policies to make sure they have uninsured motorists coverage.
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Laurels to N.C. Rep. Howard Coble’s attempt to help out homebuyers at a time when they ó and the housing market ó can use a boost. Coble is the primary sponsor of a bill that would extend a tax credit that has helped previous buyers afford a home and could provide future incentives if it survives. The $8,000 tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year. Coble’s proposal would extend it through 2010. He also wants to expand the measure so that, rather than being limited to first-time buyers, the credit would be available to all home purchasers. With recovery of the housing market vital to the overall economic picture, Coble’s proposal could give homebuyers a significant break while boosting real-estate sales.
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Dart to another jump in North Carolina’s unemployment rate, which rose to 11.1 percent in May. The data announced this week wasn’t surprising ó practically every state in the nation recorded similar increases ó but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear for the 500,000 or so unemployed North Carolinians. Also, keep in mind the statistics don’t include those who’ve lost jobs and either have abandoned job searches out of despair or are working in temporary positions. While it’s certainly encouraging to see reports that some companies are starting to add workers, including Freightliner’s Gastonia plant, the unemployment figures bear out the message economists have emphasized for months: With practically every segment of the job market affected, unemployment rates are likely to stay high even as other aspects of the economy improve.

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