Up & Coming Weekly

June 23, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 9 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JUNE 24-30, 2020 UCW 9 MONEY ere's certainly been plenty of volatility and uncertainty the past few months, but one aspect of your finan- cial picture has probably remained stable: your need for insurance. And since National Insurance Awareness Day is observed on June 28, now is a good time to review your overall insur- ance coverage to determine if you and your loved ones are well-protected. You might be surprised at the lack of protection among your fellow citizens. Less than 60% of Americans have life insurance, and just about half of those with insurance are underinsured, according to LIMRA, a research organization. Of course, you might think the reason so many people don't have insurance is because they don't need it. But just about every age group can benefit from life insurance. If you have a house and a family … Your insurance needs are obvious: If something happened to you, could your mortgage payments still be met? How about your car payments? Doc- tor's bills? College for your children? Even if you have a spouse or partner who earns a decent income, your family could still have big trouble paying its bills if you weren't around. If you're young and single with no family responsibilities … If you're in this group, why would you need life insurance? For one thing, perhaps you owe money together with some- one else — you might, for example, be a joint debtor on a mortgage. If you passed away, your codebtor would be responsible for the entire debt. And just because you don't have family responsibilities now, it doesn't mean you never will. If you have a fam- ily history of serious health issues, which may eventually affect you, you could have trouble getting life insur- ance later, or at least getting it without paying a lot. Now, when you're young and healthy, the coverage is available and may be more affordable. Your children are grown and you're retired … If you retire with debt or have a spouse dependent on you, keeping your life insurance is a good idea, especially if you haven't paid off your mortgage. Plus, life insurance can be used in various ways in your estate plans. Even if you recognize the need for life insurance, though, you may be uncertain about how much you require. Your employer may offer in- surance, but it might not be sufficient for your needs. And, perhaps just as important, if you leave your job, vol- untarily or not, you'll likely lose this coverage. If you purchase a private policy, what's the right amount? You might have heard you need a death benefit that's worth seven or eight times your annual salary, but that's just a rough estimate. To determine the appropriate level of coverage, you'll need to consider a variety of factors: your age, income, marital sta- tus, number of children and so on. Still, even after you've got the right amount in place, it doesn't mean it's set in stone. You should review your coverage regularly, and especially when you change jobs, get married or remarried, have children or experi- ence any other major life event. Life insurance should be a key part of your overall financial strategy, along with your retirement accounts and other investments. Make sure you're properly covered – for today and tomorrow. Ensure you are properly insured submitted by DEBBIE BEST Are you properly insured? DEBBIE BEST, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones Investments. COM- MENTS? 910-488-7535 Should Gov. Roy Cooper continue his current approach to reopening North Carolina's shattered economy, speed- ing up the pace to save more jobs and businesses, or slow it down in response to increases in hospitalized patients with COVID-19? I bet you have a strong opinion about this question. Most North Carolinians do. I certainly do, and have expressed it repeatedly: I think Cooper's initial shutdown orders were too sweeping and Draconian and ought to be lifted more quickly. ere are two assumptions embed- ded in my answer that deserve further explanation. One is that Cooper's reac- tion to the coronavirus crisis has been relatively stringent. e other is that state regulations have a significant effect on economic activity separate from the direct effect of the virus itself. After all, many North Carolinians would have stayed away from workplaces and busi- nesses even if the state hadn't ordered them to. Let's start with stringency. Compar- ing state COVID-19 responses is no easy task. You can't just tally up how many states issued stay-at-home orders or closed "nonessential" businesses. Details matter. Some orders lasted only a couple of weeks. Others lasted a couple of months. Some contained lots of exceptions and defined "nonessential" broadly. And in places such as Florida, local responses came earlier and have been more burdensome than the state- wide orders. Taking all that into consideration, the only state in the Southeast that seems to rival North Carolina in the stringency of COVID-19 regulation is Virginia. Its stay-at-home order lasted longer. On the other hand, Virginia has allowed some categories of businesses such as bars and gyms to reopen, albeit under tight restrictions, while Cooper has refused to do so in North Carolina. Another way of gauging the rela- tive strictness of state regulations is to look at their effect on behavior. To do that, I used a mobility measure from the University of Washington's COVID model that combines cellphone tracking from Google, Facebook, Safegraph and Descartes Labs. I also focused more spe- cifically on the restaurant sector by using an OpenTable.com tool that compares the average number of seated diners to pre-COVID levels in each state. e results matched up closely with my assessment of state policies. After the initial wave of COVID regulations, followed by the current wave of phased reopening, mobility in the average Southeastern state is about 20% below pre-COVID levels. e three states where mobility remains significantly more limited are Virginia (still down 34%), Florida (down 31%), and North Carolina (down 27%). With regard to restaurant reserva- tions, all Southeastern states show a sub- stantial drop from pre-COVID levels. But there is a wide variance. e situation is noticeably worse for restaurants in Vir- ginia (-82%) and North Carolina (-68%) than in Florida (-49%), South Carolina (-46%), and Alabama (-37%). e other states fall somewhere in-between. As you can plainly see, even the states with the lightest regulations have still experienced large declines in mobil- ity and business activity. e same can be said for jobs and incomes. It would be silly to blame Roy Cooper in North Carolina, or any governor in any state, for all of the economic pain experienced since March. However, it would also be silly to assert that state policy has played no role. Don't take my word for it. In a study posted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a team of academic researchers from Indiana, Ohio and Georgia estimated that employment dropped by an average of 1.7 percent- age points for every 10 days under a state stay-at-home order. "Our estimates imply that about 40% of the 12 percent- age-point decline in employment rates between January and April 2020 was due to a nationwide shock," they wrote, "while about 60% was driven by state social distancing policies." To show that Roy Cooper's shutdown orders were relatively onerous and very costly is not necessarily to show they were a bad idea, of course. We'll keep debating that question for weeks and months to come. But now, at least, the question is more clearly framed. Cooper's orders were strict by JOHN HOOD JOHN HOOD, Chairman of the John Locke Foundation. Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200 OPINION Mobility in the average Southeastern state is about 20% below pre-COVID levels.

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