Several northern New Brunswick communities are continuing to face population declines, according to the latest census data.

Statistics Canada released the latest population growth numbers on Wednesday. The data shows New Brunswick’s overall population increased 2.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

While some southern New Brunswick cities and towns experienced double-digit growth, communities in the north were not as fortunate.

Edmundston saw its population drop to 16,032, a 3.7 per cent reduction.

Bathurst’s population was cut to 12,275, a 3.5 per cent drop.

And the number of people living in Miramichi dropped to 17,811, a cut of 1.8 per cent.

Moving out

The loss of 439 Bathurst residents in the past five years has those who stayed in the town concerned.

"Every business in New Brunswick is concerned about the dipping numbers in clientele. And it's a struggle everyday to gain new clientele and to keep the existing clientele that we have," said Lorne Daigle, a restaurant manager in downtown Bathurst.

He said he's noticed the decline in residents over time, especially younger generations.

"It is quite noticeable. Especially younger faces ... when they graduate and go on to college and university, they just don't seem to come back," Daigle said.

Store owner Jimmy Karatzios said in the 34 years his store has been open, he's seen the decline as well.

He said his fur store has survived by altering the merchandise to reflect who is still around to buy it.

"Well it definitely effects our business, because when the population drops, the volume of the business is going to go down," Karatzios said. "But actually we maintain to keep our business up and pay our bills." 

Karatzios admits Bathurst's glory years are likely behind it, but he said he's not concerned about staying open.

While there are more young people moving away at the moment, he said he thinks the elderly will move back up north once they begin to retire.

Meanwhile, Campbellton’s population held steady. The northern city added one person in five years, according to the census data.

While many of the communities are still facing smaller populations, the rate of decline is slowing.

Dalhousie’s population dropped to 3,512, a 4.5 per cent drop. By comparison, the northern town lost 6.4 per cent in the 2006 census and 11.7 per cent in the 2001 census.