PORTLAND, Maine — Bangor’s population continued to drop in 2015, according to newly released estimates that show growth across the largest southern Maine communities and in Waterville last year.
Among the state’s 35 most populous communities — from Portland to Gray — Bangor’s population is among the fastest to decline since 2010. The American Community Survey estimates show Presque Isle, Caribou, Augusta, Brewer and Bath shrunk at a faster rate.
The latest census figures offer a closer look at the continuing overall decline of the state’s population, with southern counties projected to pick up more people as cities and towns beyond Cumberland and York counties struggle to grow.
The latest figures project Bangor’s population dropped by about 250 in the past year, landing at an estimate of 32,391. Since 2010, the area’s population was estimated to fall by about 2 percent.
Within the 35 largest communities, Waterville and Topsham were the only ones outside Cumberland and York counties where the populations were estimated to grow in 2015. Since 2010, Orono and Waterville have posted the largest increases outside southern Maine.
The data do not reflect results of a door-to-door census, but the best estimates of Census Bureau demographers to suss out what’s happening to populations in communities throughout the country.
While the population has gradually shifted south, that hasn’t much changed the rank of Maine’s most populous communities. Among those towns, Augusta, Presque Isle, Caribou and Bath have declined at the fastest rates relative to other towns, with Presque Isle falling four spots, dropping below Brewer and the southern Maine communities of Wells, Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.
Estimated changes in 2015 altered where a few communities stood in relation to one another. Brewer fell back to 24th after a year at 23rd. Presque Isle and Bath both dropped one spot.
Those rankings of individual communities don’t account for any room for error in the census estimates, meaning the real rankings could differ.
But they do show that there is not much jockeying among the state’s largest communities, at least in the last five years.
Looking back decades, there is a clear trend of southern and central Maine counties gaining population as Aroostook and Washington counties, in particular, have faced the steepest declines.