Nevada, which had the nation's worst Census response in 1990, moved up to 17th this year.
Secretary of State Dean Heller said 45 percent of Nevadans have already returned their Census forms - a tie with Delaware.
"I'm very pleased by Nevada's preliminary response to Census 2000," he said. "Simply by returning their Census questionnaires, the people of Nevada are ensuring our state will receive the federal funding it is entitled to."
The 45 percent figure represents the people who returned the Census data forms mailed to them without further urging by Census workers. Nevada's return was better than the national average so far of just 42 percent.
But Nevada is low compared with its western neighbors. Oregon, Montana, Idaho were among six states that reported 48 percent returns. California, Wyoming and Utah were among six others with 47 percent. Washington was one of four states at 46 percent.
The lowest percentage returned was from Puerto Rico - just 22 percent. No state logged higher than 48 percent.
Now Census workers will take to the streets to follow up on those who failed to return the forms with house to house interviews. The national goal for responses is 70 percent response.
Nevada had worst initial response rate and the sixth-lowest final response in the 1990 Census. Carson City, however, had the second-best response rate in Nevada, behind Boulder City, with the capital city comfortably exceeding the national average.
Heller said the problem is that so much federal money is apportioned by population that every missed household costs the state cash for a wide variety of programs. Experts have estimated the under-count in 1990 cost Nevada state and local governments nearly $200 million over the past 10 years.
This year, state and local officials headed by Heller have been working to get Nevadans to send in their Census forms.
"The hard work of the state's Complete Count Committees is clearly having an impact," he said.
Heller said residents will continue to receive their Census 2000 forms in the mail for another two weeks.