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On last day to send census forms, city improves response rate

About 63 percent of city residents had mailed back census forms as of Friday, the last day the federal government asked citizens to return the questionnaires. That represents a 10 percent increase over the response a decade ago, the largest jump in the state.

City officials have praised the effort, which included a radio and television advertising campaign and a push to get all city agencies to promote the national count through word of mouth.

In 2000, Baltimore finished with the second-worst response rate in the nation for a city its size, with 53 percent, beating only Newark, N.J.'s 46 percent.

"This yearlong effort was worthwhile," said John T. Willis, who is leading the city's census efforts. "The city was more actively engaged than it was 10 years ago. The agencies, lead by the planning department, was more active. Of course it gets harder now, trying to get to the traditional undercount in urban areas."

Carroll County continues to lead the area with a 79 percent response rate, followed by Harford and Howard (76 percent) and Baltimore County and Anne Arundel (73 percent).

Statewide, 71 percent of Marylanders have returned the forms, 3 percentage points higher than the national average.

Census workers will begin canvassing neighborhoods next month, targeting residents who have not returned the questionnaires.

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