PFD impacts more than just Alaska’s economy

Alaska residents have until 11:59 p.m. to either file online or send a postmarked paper...
Alaska residents have until 11:59 p.m. to either file online or send a postmarked paper application(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 8:26 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - COVID-19 has impacted economies around the world and here in Alaska. One economic stimulus Alaskans can look forward to each year is the Permanent Fund dividend, which many are set to receive this week.

“If you’re looking at the number of jobs and trying to compare it to the past, you know we did start recovering this year nicely, you know we’ve seen thousands of jobs come back, the ones that we lost in 2020, but we’re not anywhere close to regaining all those jobs,” said economist Neal Fried.

And with the PFD putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy, Brett Watson from the Institute of Social and Economic Research said studies have shown a correlation between jobs and the dividend.

“The PFD is representing such a big part of the Alaska’s economy in October and November as people go to spend those dividends that there’s extra demand for workers in the labor force,” Watson said.

And it’s not just the job market the PFD impacts. ISER shows there are a few other things, like crime.

“We find that there’s no effect of the PFD on violent crime, that’s good,” Watson said. “We find that the PFD after it gets deposited relieves peoples financial stress and actually reduces property crime in Anchorage, so another good effect.”

And another study found the payment can also impact the health of children.

“And so, what we do is we compare the kids that are born in December to the kids that are born in January, and we find that those December kids tend to be less likely to be obese and have other positive health outcomes and we attribute that to that difference that these ... two groups of kids experience because of that dividend check.”

Some spend the check on a shopping spree or to buy necessary items for their household, and others save it.

But the research isn’t over. Watson says some of the projects they are currently working on related to the PFD include how it affects mortgage delinquencies and also maternal health outcomes.

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