PFD Soars to Historic High Amid Plummeting Oil Revenue

by Anna Rose MacArthur on September 21, 2015

Shania Sommer announcing the 2015 PFD of $2,072. Photo courtesy of KTUU.

Shania Sommer announcing the 2015 PFD of $2,072. Photo courtesy of KTUU.

This year’s 2015 Permanent Fund Dividend will be 2,072 dollars. It is the highest dividend in the fund’s history, and it comes at the lowest point in the state’s oil revenue income.

The announcement was made Monday morning at a press conference in Anchorage by seventh-grader Shania Sommer of Palmer Junior Middle School. The student was selected as a representative of the next generation, the one for which the fund was created for when the nonrenewable oil runs out.

But the exciting news of the dividend’s all-time high was dampened by the state’s depleted economic situation.

At the press conference Gov. Bill Walker emphasized the state’s three billion dollar deficit and noted that Alaska’s income has fallen to  half its former amount. He pointed out how effects of these decreases can already be seen in the recent layoffs of Anchorage investigators and McGrath firefighters.

These financial downturns come as oil from Prudhoe Bay has dropped to about 500,000 barrels a day from its initial high of about two million barrels a day. Concurrently, the price of those barrels has plummeted to about 50 dollars a barrel from three times that amount a few years ago.

Officials say even though this year’s dividend heralds a financial boon to eligible Alaskans, it comes amid diminished state coffers and an uncertain economic future.

Correction: This article has been edited since it was first posted, changing the number of barrels coming from Prudhoe Bay to about 500,000 per day from the initially posted 5,000 barrels per day.

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