Bangor’s shrinking population reflects a northern Maine trend

Population losses continued to sweep inland communities north of Augusta last year, according to local estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The latest figures show communities in Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington and Penobscot counties posted the largest estimated population losses, by percentage change.

In raw numbers, Bangor posted the steepest loss of population, with an estimated 324 fewer people in 2016 than the prior year. From 2010 to 2016, the Queen City lost more than 1,000 people.

Bangor’s loss was matched with Portland suburb Westbrook’s estimated gain of 364 people. Orono gained an estimated 521 people, for nearly a 5 percent rise above its 2015 population of 10,721.

Explore changes by town from 2015 to 2016 and from 2010 to 2016 in the interactive graphic below. Highlight a town by typing it into the search field below the chart.

Percentage changes are amplified in smaller communities, making estimated changes of just one or two people show up as a more significant shift.

Mapped, the latest estimates present a clearer picture of the geography of demographic shifts in the past year and back to 2010 estimates rooted in door-by-door census tallies.

The figures back to 2010 show the same basic geographic distribution of population gains and losses.

[All but 2 Maine counties had more deaths than births in 2016]

Still, there comes a caveat with these estimates. Glenn Mills, chief economist for the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, noted in a recent blog post that “population estimates generally are less accurate the further we get from the preceding decennial headcount. We will not know for certain if there has been more population growth than estimated until the 2020 Census has been completed.”

Until then, these numbers are the best single source on whether individual Maine communities are shrinking or growing.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.