Despite a concerted effort to get the word out, returns of U.S. Census Bureau forms lag in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Md.

According to the Census Bureau, Baltimore and Prince George’s are second and third to last among all jurisdictions in Maryland with rates of 49 and 52 percent respectively.  D.C. ranks only slightly better than Baltimore at 51 percent.

With Baltimore, Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C. all in deep economic despair, local leaders said that it would behoove residents of the jurisdictions to get their forms in.

“A lot of financing which is crucial to public sector activities, taxes and support is dictated by the census results,” former Prince George’s County Executive and current Baltimore-based attorney Wayne Curry told the AFRO.  “When you’re a community in need, that’s critically important.”

By comparison, Montgomery County, Md., Prince George’s County’s neighbor to the northwest, has a return rate of 61 percent. Nationwide, Newark, N.J. posted one of the lowest return rates of any metropolitan area, at 29 percent.

Census questionnaires were mailed out in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area in mid-March, and Baltimore officials tracking the returns said they’re content with Baltimore’s standing at the moment.

“We’re ahead of Philly. … Last time, we were at the bottom, and now we’ve moved up to the middle,” John T. Willis, who is leading the city’s census efforts, told The Baltimore Sun. “You can’t expect an urban jurisdiction with so many hard-to-count residents as we do to be like Howard County.”

Census Bureau officials continued to urge U.S. residents to complete the form and mail it back.

“The Census Bureau and I would like to thank everyone who has already taken 10 minutes to fill out and mail back the 2010 Census,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said in a press release. “For those who have not yet had a chance to send it back, I’d like to reiterate that it’s not too late to participate and doing so will save a lot of taxpayer money.”

For every 1 percent increase in participation by mail, the Census Bureau can save taxpayers $85 million by not having to send census takers door-to-door. If every household mailed back its Census form, the cost of taking the census would be reduced by $1.5 billion, the federal agency said.