Some 670,407 individuals applied for the 2017 Permanent Fund dividend, according to the Alaska Permanent Fund Division. The number of applicants this year is down slightly from 2016’s applicant pool of 670,599, a difference of 192.
All eligible Alaskans who applied by the March 31 deadline will receive a dividend in October from the Permanent Fund’s investments.
In 2016, the check amount was $1,022, and for the first time in the fund’s history, the amount was set by the governor based on political considerations.
Those who apply by March 31 deadline and those who are determined eligible are two different matters, but the numbers are telling: Population is holding steady. Even while there is a net migration from Alaska of workers, those who remain are filling in the population with babies, keeping the overall population stable at 739,828.
In 2015, the number of applicants was up, with 678,689 Alaskans appling for the dividend, and the royalty check itself was the largest ever to be distributed, at $2,072.
At the same time, the state was plunging into a recession, with oil patch workers leaving for jobs in other states. Net migration from Alaska over the past three years has exceeded 17,000, and anecdotal evidence from Alaska trucking companies indicate that trend continues this summer. Oil companies uncertain about the investment climate in Alaska have put projects on hold and oil field contractors see work slowing down, with many reporting the economic hit at about 20 percent.
VALUE OF P-FUND UP
The value of the Alaska Permanent Fund itself has increased since 2007, when it held $40 billion. It’s now at an all-time high, closing in on $60 billion. The earnings reserve fund, which can be used to fund state services, has about $11.7 billion.
The Alaska Permanent Fund’s investment return for the fiscal year to date was up 9 percent, according to the agency’s web site.
The fund was created through an amendment to the Alaska Constitution shortly after oil started flowing through the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. A portion of the oil money from North Slope fields is put into the fund because future generations will not have oil as a resource, and the prediction was that Alaska would need to become an investment state.
The state now earns more from investments of the Fund than it does from oil royalties. The Fund started with just $734,000 in 1977.