Licking County sits two percentage points below the Ohio and national averages for 2010 Census responses.

Licking County sits two percentage points below the Ohio and national averages for 2010 Census responses.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Web site, the mail-back rate in the county is 27 percent, compared to 29 percent statewide, as of Friday, March 26.

The national participation rate also is 29 percent.

The city of Pataskala is seven points below the state average for 2010 Census responses.

A census participation map shows the eastern portion of Pataskala has a higher participation rate than the western portion.

The cities of Heath and Newark both are closely aligned with the national average.

Newark residents have a 27-percent response rate, and Heath residents have a 28-percent response rate.

Johnstown has a 26-percent return rate.

Granville, which includes Denison University students, has a 31-percent response rate -- one of the highest in central Ohio other than Bexley, which has as 32-percent response rate.

Government officials are measuring census participation rates differently this year. In 2000, the Census Bureau measured participation based on the mail response rate, which did not take into account vacant homes to which the census forms might have been mailed.

This year, the bureau is measuring the mail participation rate, which measures the percentage of forms returned by households that received them.

County commissioner Tim Bubb, who serves on the Licking County Complete Count Committee, said he and the 19 other committee members have been working diligently to get the word out about census participation.

The CCC is a volunteer committee established by tribal, state or local government leaders to increase awareness about the census and to motivate residents to respond.

The Licking County CCC is comprised of representatives from county governments, schools and the religious community.

"We drew upon people from all walks of life -- the religious community, the educational community, social services and the government," Bubb said. "Basically, we are just trying to find venues in a number of different areas where we can promote participation in the census."

He said the goal of the committee, which has been working for the past several months, is to minimize undercounting.

"It's the right thing for the county to do ... to encourage the participation," Bubb said. "The more participation, then the less expensive it is to go out and follow up with people. We want to encourage everyone to fill it out and return it. There are still a lot of people with census papers at home, and I would encourage them this weekend to take two or three minutes to fill it out and return it."

Census forms started arriving in mailboxes March 15. Officials are asking residents to mail the forms back as soon as possible.

For more information about the 2010 census, visit 2010.census.gov.

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com