The population of the community consists of 12.5% Alaska Native or part Native. The valley is renowned for the annual Alaska State Fair, where local farmers produce award-winning vegetables. Popular recreation sites include Hatcher Pass, Crevasse-Moraine Trails, Kepler Lake, Bonnie Lake, Finger Lake and Long Lake. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,555, and vacant housing units numbered 83. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 5. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 1,869 residents as employed. The unemployment rate at that time was 10.84 percent, although 42.46 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $45,571, per capita income was $17,203, and 12.66 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.
Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care
Water is provided by three deep wells, is treated and stored in a million-gallon reservoir. Sewage is collected by pipe and treated in an aerated lagoon facility. All homes are completely plumbed. Matanuska Electric Association, Inc. (MEA) provides electric utility service to the entire city of Palmer. MEA purchases virtually all of the electricity it distributes from Chugach Electric Association, Inc. pursuant to a contract expiring January 1, 2015. Piped natural gas, provided by Enstar, is used to heat homes. The Mat-Su Borough operates the landfill outside the City limits of Palmer. A sludge disposal site is also available. Electricity is provided by Matanuska Electric Association, Inc.. There are 7 schools located in the community, attended by 2,803 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Mat-Su Regional Medical Center (907-861-6000). The Mat-Su Regional Medical Center is a qualified Acute Care facility located between Palmer and Wasilla and is privately owned. Long Term Care: Palmer Pioneers' and Veterans' Home. Palmer is classified as a small city, it is found in EMS Region 2C in the Mat-Su Region. Emergency Services have highway,air, floatplane and helicopter access. Emergency service is provided by 911 Telephone Service and volunteers Auxiliary health care is provided by Palmer Ambulance Service (907-745-4430).
Economy and Transportation
Many residents commute to Anchorage for employment. Palmer's economy is based on a diversity of retail and other services, City, Borough, State and federal government. Some light manufacturing occurs. 73 area residents hold commercial fishing permits. Palmer is home to 200 musk ox whose underwool (qiviut) is knitted into garments by Alaska Native women from several rural villages. Between 2,500 and 3,500 garments are created each year by these women, and sold by an Anchorage cooperative. The 75-acre musk ox farm is also a tourist attraction. The University has an Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Office and a district Cooperative Extension Service office here. The University's Matanuska Research Farm is also located in Palmer.
Palmer lies on the Glenn Highway. Commercial airlines serve the Anchorage International Airport, but the Palmer Municipal Airport supports private and chartered services with two paved airstrips, one at 6,009' long by 60' wide and the other at 3,617' long by 75' wide. There are seven additional privately-owned airstrips in the vicinity. Float planes may land at nearby Finger Lake or Wolf Lake. The Alaska Railroad connects Palmer to Whittier, Seward or Anchorage for ocean freight delivery.