As of Friday, 28 percent of the 2010 census forms mailed out to Jackson County households have been returned. Statewide and nationally, 29 percent of the forms have been returned, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on a Web site that provides daily tracking of participation rates.

As of Friday, 28 percent of the 2010 census forms mailed out to Jackson County households have been returned. Statewide and nationally, 29 percent of the forms have been returned, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on a Web site that provides daily tracking of participation rates.

The bureau provides daily updates of the percentage of returned census questionnaires using Google Maps and Google Earth at www.2010census.gov/2010census/take10map. People can monitor mail-participation rates at city, county and state levels and compare results with other communities and states.

Most households in Oregon received a 10-question form in mailboxes last week. Census officials hope that people will fill out the questionnaires and mail them back, an effort that reportedly costs the government just the price of a postage stamp. However, it costs the Census Bureau $57 to follow up with a nonresponsive household, officials said in a news release. In 2000, the nation reversed a three-decade decline in mail rates, achieving a mail-participation rate of 72 percent.

Anyone who needs help filling out the census form or who didn't receive a census form in the mail can stop by either of two assistance centers in Medford. The Medford Senior Center, 510 E. Main St., is listed as a help site open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Medford City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St., is listed as a help site open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census takes place every 10 years. Census data determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts.

More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually based on census data to pay for local programs and services, such as schools, highways, vocational training, emergency services, hospitals, unemployment benefits and much more.

Learn more about the 2010 Census at www.2010.census.gov.