With Alaska's higher costs, dividends won't go far

Associated Press Modified: September 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm •  Published: September 18, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — This is the day Alaskans crow about to their brethren in the Lower 48, trying to make them jealous that the government gives them money to just live here.

Alaskans got word Tuesday that this year's Permanent Fund Dividend will be $878. Almost all Alaskans — nearly 647,000 people — will receive this sum, their yearly share of the state's oil wealth.

But what your Alaskan friends may not tell you is that the yearly bounty barely makes a dent in the higher cost to live in the nation's northernmost state — and this year's checks won't go far.

Living in Alaska costs more since most everything has to be shipped in. In fact, 90 percent of all goods sold in the state pass through the Port of Anchorage.

There's no such thing as a dollar menu at a fast-food restaurant in Alaska, for example — it's more like a $1.50 or $2 menu. And there's a reason why many TV commercials advertising prices have a line in small print at the bottom saying prices may be higher in Alaska and Hawaii: They are.

Here's a look at what this year's dividend — $878 — will get you in Alaska:

— About $70 short of one month's rent for a single-bedroom apartment in Juneau, the state's capital.

— 88 12-packs of soda in the western Alaska village of Nome. (Residents in Los Angeles could take home triple that amount for the same money.)

— Nearly 59 cans of Hills Brothers Coffee at the remote village of Fort Yukon, just north of the Arctic Circle.

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