Alaskans get $1,174 checks from state's oil wealth

Associated Press Modified: September 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm •  Published: September 20, 2011
Advertisement
;

Today, state government relies heavily on oil revenues to run, and most Alaska residents receive a dividend check; people have to live in the state for a year to be eligible to apply. The amount of investment earnings allocated to dividends is based on a five-year rolling average of the permanent fund's performance.

The market hit from the U.S. recession and ensuing economic slump are factored into the most recent period.

Still, Tuesday was "a happy day for Alaskans," Butcher said.

State labor department economist Neal Fried said there's no question the dividend has an impact on Alaska's economy but he's seen no research to quantify just how big the bump is. The way people treat their dividends likely varies with their individual circumstances and even how long they've been getting the extra money, he said.

Butcher, who used to work at the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., said October tended to be the month when many people caught up with mortgage payments.

Parnell said one of his great duties as governor is being able to announce the annual dividend, calling it a "unique duty that 49 other governors likely wish they had." He said he and his wife, Sandy, would likely put their dividends toward the cost of college for their two daughters.

Last year, $783.4 million was paid to 611,522 people, according to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division. The fund ended the recent fiscal year with a balance of $40.1 billion.

Alaskans received their largest dividend — $2,069 — in 2008, according to the dividend division. In 2006, the dividend was $1,106.96.

Bosco Olson Sr., city administrator of Hooper Bay, said dividend announcement day is like Christmas, with the town's 1,100 residents patiently waiting and excited.

Olson, whose town is about 500 miles west of Anchorage, said he's considering using his dividend for a new lead dog or two for his sled dog team.