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Alaska's permanent fund dividend likely to boost sales

Drill-rig workers at the Pebble Mine claim in Alaska's Bristol Bay region

Steve Chiotakis: To Alaska, where every resident will be getting a check for $1,174 -- for simply living in the state. Its called the Permanent Fund Dividend --
or the PFD. The yearly payout was established back in the 1980s, as a way for Alaskans to share
in the state's oil wealth. And every year around this time, the PFD injects a lot of cash into the Alaska economy.

From Alaska Public Radio Network Annie Feidt reports.


Annie Feidt: The ads start popping up in local papers in late September. "Make your dividend check go further at Petco." Here's one from Alaska Airlines: "The PFD checks are in, a perfect time to check out." Car dealers and furniture stores tend to run the biggest promotions.

Buddy Bailey is with Bailey's Furniture in Anchorage. He says the store sees a huge jump in sales every October.

Buddy Bailey: A pretty realistic number is probably around the 20 to 25 percent and I'll bet you that's pretty uniform across most of the industries in Alaska for retail for sure.

Bailey says PFD time is better for retailers than the holiday shopping season. But state of Alaska economist Neal Fried says the economic impact of the PFD has become muted over time.

Neal Fried: My guess is that we treat it more and more like regular income -- we expect it to come. I don't think we treat it as much like a windfall like we might have in the earlier years.

Fried has collected every permanent fund dividend since it was first handed out 30 years ago. He says he's stingy and most have gone straight to his savings account.

In Anchorage, I'm Annie Feidt for Marketplace.

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