Alaskans pocket over $3000 in annual oil-wealth payments – The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — 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. Alaska lawmakers added $662 as a one-time benefit to help residents with high energy costs.
A total of $1.6 billion in direct deposits began hitting bank accounts Tuesday, and checks will arrive later for those who opted for them.
Residents use the money in various ways, from buying big-screen TVs, vehicles or other goods, using it for vacations or putting 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’re experiencing record high inflation that we haven’t seen since the first PFD was paid in 1982,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said 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 a lot closer,” he said.
He said the payments — which would be more than $16,000 for a family of five — are much needed.
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