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Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet said upgrading infrastructure in northern New Brunswick will be important to rebuilding the economy. (CBC)

Two northern New Brunswick mayors are concerned about the high levels of unemployment that continue to plague their region.

New Brunswick's overall unemployment rate rose to 10.5 per cent in March, but Statistics Canada reported the jobless rate was nearly double that in northeastern New Brunswick.

The monthly labour force report, which was released last Friday, said the unemployment rate was 20.2 per cent in the Campbellton-Miramichi zone.

The mayors of Bathurst and Campbellton say they're dealing with challenging economic times as mines and mills close and they lose people, who are heading to Western Canada to work.

Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet said infrastructure investments are needed to bring people to the northern region.

"We need better infrastructure with our roadwork coming up to the north and going back to the Moncton area," Brunet said.

"For example, from Miramichi to Moncton, it needs to have some passing lanes so that our truck traffic and our tourist traffic can get up here without being totally frustrated by the time they get here."

The Alward government had talked about twining the highway between Moncton and Miramichi, but those plans have been put on hold because of the sluggish economy.

But it isn’t just highways that need to be improved, Campbellton Mayor Bruce MacIntosh said his city relies on keeping existing infrastructure.

MacIntosh said he worries about losing rail service to his region.

"Our transportation link is very, very important and you're not going to be able to get companies, especially that utilizes transportation, to come to northern New Brunswick if we lose a part of our rail system," he said.

But the northern mayor also said the region will have to look at other sectors like tourism and work to support small businesses.