10 Challenges for the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System In 2010 (Part 2)

December 16, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

As we discussed in our first post on this subject, the North Carolina workers’ compensation system has been strained by a staggering variety of factors. Here are five more key challenges that policymakers may want to address seriously.

6. Weather.

The issue of climate change is on everyone’s minds. Following the inconclusive resolution to the recent Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change and the revelations that researchers at East Anglia University cherry picked data and prevented skeptics from publishing in peer review journals, many North Carolinians have soured on the idea that global warming is manmade (and that we have the wherewithal to do anything about it, if it is). Regardless, uncertainties regarding the state’s climate indirectly impact business investment, which in turn might impact North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance rates and other policies. For instance, let’s say that a small business owner wants to commission a fleet of boats but worries about possible hurricane damage. Her uncertainty about the science of climate change could impact her business’s investment decision and thus indirectly impact the number of jobs in NC and the rates for insurance, and so forth.

7. General changes to insurance rates.

Wayne Goodwin, the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner, announced a few months ago that North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance rates would be decreased by 9.6 percent — netting employers throughout the state a savings of around $100 million. How might this rate cut impact the benefit system is anyone’s guess. Employers seem to appreciate getting a break during these difficult economic times. But just because small business owners in general like the proposal doesn’t mean that good things will not necessarily come out of it — and the uncertainty could even cause some problems.

8. Outsourcing.

Although North Carolina’s Research Triangle continues to produce income for the state at a prodigious rate, local economists remain concerned about how outsourcing of industry tasks might morph the state’s economy. With unemployment now in the double digits, more than a few North Carolinians are advocating for restrictions on certain kinds of outsourcing and for increasing taxes on those who do send work overseas or to other states.

9. Immigration.

Although the debate over immigration does not attract the kinds of headlines it did two or three years ago, North Carolina’s population nevertheless continues to evolve and transmogrify. With radical demographic shifts becoming normal for the state, it stands to reason that the flux will have profound ramifications for workers’ comp benefits policy.

10. Actions of other states and the federal government.

North Carolina is not an island unto itself. It is interdependent. The actions of the federal government and of neighboring states — particularly Virginia, South Carolina, and Maryland — can have huge impacts on the state economy. The actions of these states are largely outside of our control. And they add yet another layer of uncertainty to an already tumultuous mix.

If you or someone you know has been hurt at work or has fallen ill, connect today with a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer to learn about your rights and potential benefits.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina’s Research Triangle

Wayne Goodwin, the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner


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