Alaskans pocket over $3,000 in annual oil-wealth payments

Alaskans pocket over $3,000 in annual oil-wealth payments thumbnail

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Nearly every single Alaskan got a financial windfall amounting to more than $3,000 Tuesday, the day the state began distributing payments from Alaska’s investment fund that has been seeded with money from the state’s oil riches.

The payments, officially called the Permanent Fund Dividend or the PFD locally, amounted to $2,622 — the highest amount ever. To help residents with high energy bills, Alaska lawmakers added $662 to their benefits package.

Direct deposits began Tuesday and checks will arrive later for those who have chosen them. Residents use the money in a variety of ways. They can buy big-screen TVs, cars, or other goods. They can also use it to pay for vacations, or put it in savings or college funds. In rural Alaska, the money can help offset the enormous costs of fuel and food, like $14 for a 12-pack of soda, $4 for a celery bunch and $3 for a small container of Greek yogurt. We are experiencing record-breaking inflation. This is the highest level of inflation since 1982,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy spoke in a video. “Alaskans have been bearing the brunt of this inflation from the gas pump to the grocery store, and this year’s PFD will provide much needed relief as we head into winter.”

The timing of the checks couldn’t have come at a better time for those living on the state’s vast western coast, which was devastated last weekend by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. Damage to homes and infrastructure was widespread along a 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) of coastline.

Among the communities experiencing the greatest damage was Nome, the largest city on the coast with about 3,500 residents and known for being the end point of the world’s most famous sled dog race.

Howard Farley, now 90, helped secure Nome as the Iditarod’s finish line over 50 years ago. His century-old home was safe from the storm on high ground in Nome, but they did lose about 100 feet (30. 48 meters) of frontage and one building at the family’s camp site about 5 miles (8 kilometers) east of town.

” The beach is much closer,” he stated.

He said the payments — which would be more than $16,00 for a family of five — are much needed. Even people who didn’t suffer any damage, the inflation up there is really, really affecting us,” he said.

Farley stated that gas is $7 per gallon and will stay that way until next spring’s shipment arrives. This is because barges are unable to deliver after the Bering Sea freezes.

” The price won’t drop like it does in Anchorage or other places, because you guys can get deliveries almost every day,” he stated.

” This will mean that many families can make ends meet with the high prices they’re paying, he stated. The nest-egg investment account’s earnings usually provide the oil-wealth check. Some Alaskans consider it an entitlement. The diversified fund was established during construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline in the 1970s and now is worth $73.6 billion. To qualify for a dividend, there is a yearly application and residency requirements. Dividends were traditionally paid using earnings from Alaska Permanent Fund. 2018 lawmakers began to use fund earnings to help pay for government. They sought to limit the amount that can be taken from earnings for both. This year, the dividend amount is half of the authorized draw.

Residents received the first check, $1,000, in 1982. The amounts have changed over the years and were traditionally calculated using a rolling five-year average to offset economic downturns.

The smallest check ever was $331 in 1983. The largest before this year’s check was $2,072 in 2015. If someone has collected every check since 1982, it would amount to $47,049.

Mildred Jonathan, 74, and her husband, Alfred, 79, live about 100 miles (161 kilometers) west of the Canadian border in the interior Alaska village of Tanacross. They will not spend any frivolous money when they receive their October paper check. The Jonathans will instead purchase firewood as their major purchase.

“The wood I’m hoping to get is $1,600, and it’s a 10-cord load,” she said. “I’ll survive the winter if I buy that.”

Snow was already falling on nearby mountains, and temperatures in the Athabascan village during the winter are typically well below zero. She said, “It’s cold. It’s cold. It’s cold.”

Any money left by the couple will be used to install a hot water system, new flooring in their home, and Christmas gifts for their grandchildren who are looking for new phones.

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