ANCHORAGE - Alaskans will be eligible for a state government dividend of $1,575 under recent calculations by the media.
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The Anchorage Daily News estimates $1,575 for each qualified applicant. That would be $468 more than the $1,106.96 dividend last year.
State officials will announce the dividend amount in mid-September, after profits from the Alaska Permanent Fund are tallied for the last fiscal year, which ended Saturday.
In the 25 years the state has paid a dividend, checks have totaled $1,000 or more 10 times. The largest - $1,963.86 - was in 2000 when the stock market was soaring.
The permanent fund is a savings account begun through the state's oil wealth. It holds stocks, bonds, real estate and other types of investments. The price of oil, which has been running at historic levels in recent years, now has little to do with the size of dividends.
Dividends depend on an average of the previous five years of earnings.
The big reason for a jump this year is that a relatively poor year, 2002, is falling out of the equation to make room for last year, which was a strong one for profits.
Next year's dividend is likely to be even bigger as another weak year, 2003, will fall out of the equation.
The dividend has become a powerful force in the Alaska economy. A jump of nearly $500 in the payment will make it more so, said Scott Goldsmith, a University of Alaska Anchorage economist.
Some 600,000 men, women and children collectively will receive about $280 million more than last year to save, spend or invest, he said.
The first dividend payments go out Oct. 3 to people who applied online in January for direct deposit. Another round of direct deposits goes out Oct. 17, with paper checks going into the mail on Nov. 13.
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