Then & Now: 1959-2009
Much has changed in Alaska and Juneau in the first five decades since statehood became official.
Much has changed in Alaska and Juneau in the first five decades since statehood became official.

When Alaska was admitted to the union on Jan. 3, 1959, the estimated population of Juneau and the surrounding area was around 10,500. Fifty years later, that number is estimated to be around 30,305. In 1959, the population of Alaska was estimated at 210,000, while recent estimations place the population figure at 676,987.

In 1959, the largest industry in Juneau was government and fishing, with 1,280 and 700 estimated jobs respectively. Government is still the predominant employer in the state capital with 7,324 estimated government jobs, 869 of which are federal, 4,249 are state and 2,206 are local.

The cost of living in Alaska remains considerably higher in the Last Frontier than in the Lower 48 in the 21st century as it did in the mid-20th century. However, things have shifted around the state. In 1959, the cost of living was estimated to be 21.4 percent higher than Seattle, while Anchorage was 35.2 percent higher and Fairbanks was 45.4 percent higher. Presently, it is estimated that the cost of living in Juneau is 34.5 percent higher than the average U.S. city, while Anchorage is 26.1 percent higher, and Fairbanks is 32.8 percent higher.

Rental prices in Juneau in 1959 ranged from $85 to $175 a month, "depending on accommodations." A new two-bedroom house in Juneau during that time cost $20,000 and up. Presently, the capital has the highest housing costs in the state. The average monthly rent in Juneau is $1,076, and an average single-family home costs $324,054.

Inflation has obviously continued to rise in Juneau since statehood. For example, the cost of The Daily Alaska Empire was 15 cents in 1959 for every day of the week, with the exception of Saturday when there was no paper. In 2009, the cost of the Juneau Empire is 50 cents for Monday through Friday, and $1.25 for the Sunday edition. There still is no Saturday paper.

Movie tickets at Gross Alaska Theatres 20th Century Twin, which was the location of a city celebration on Jan. 3, 1959, have also become more expensive. At the time of statehood, a child could see a movie for 25 cents, students were charged 75 cents, and general admission was $1. In 2009, children ages 2 to 12 are charged $6 for a weekend matinee, and general admission is $7.50, while for evening shows it costs $6.50 and $10 respectively.