September 21, 2005

Alaska residents to get $845 dividend payout

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Nearly every Alaska resident
will receive a payment of $845.76 starting next month, this
year's share of investment earnings from the state's $30
billion oil-wealth savings account, Gov. Frank Murkowski
announced on Tuesday.

The dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund will be the
smallest since 1988, the result of poor stock returns a few
years ago. The dividend is calculated according to a five-year
earnings average and the dividend payment has declined steadily
since 2000, when it reached a record $1,963.86.

The dividend amount was announced at a banquet in Juneau as
part of the fund's two-day annual meeting.

"The dividend is vitally important to the dreams and needs
of Alaskans and the economic vitality of the state," Murkowski
said in a news release.

The smaller payout was long expected so Alaskans are
unlikely to be very disappointed with it, said Neal Fried, a
state labor economist.

Although auto dealers, furniture stores and other companies
regularly advertise dividend sales specials, Alaskans are
probably less likely now than in the past to have grand plans
for spending their annual payout, Fried said in a telephone

"I do think we increasingly as Alaskans are thinking of
these things no longer as windfalls," he said. "It's built into
our annual budgets, except of course, for new people who are
just getting them."

The dividend will go to about 603,080 adults and children,
nearly all of Alaska's residents, officials said. Most will
receive the payments by direct deposit into their bank accounts
on October 12. The remainder will have checks mailed out later,
officials said.

To qualify for the dividend program, which is unique to
Alaska in the United States, a person must be a resident for a
full calendar year and intend to stay in the state

The Permanent Fund was established by an amendment to the
state constitution approved in 1976, which directed that a
portion of North Slope oil royalty payments be saved and
invested for the benefit of residents. It has paid dividends
since 1982.

Fund officials on Tuesday also announced financial results
for fiscal 2005, which ended June 30. The fund, which invests
in equities, fixed-income securities and real estate, had a
market value of $29.96 billion at the end of the fiscal year,
an increase of $2.56 billion over the 2004 closing balance of
$27.4 billion, officials said.

With the a recent recovery in stock performance, future
dividends are likely to be larger than this year's payout,
officials said.