Over Half of US Counties Had No Murders

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Fifty-four percent of the counties in the United States had no murders committed in them in 2014, the most recent year for which the data are available. Just 2% of counties had more than half (51%) of all murders. And murders within these “dangerous” counties are concentrated in very small areas. The study reinforces observations from cities like Chicago that have extremely high murder rates but where most of the city is considered “safe.”

The information comes from the Crime Prevention Research Center and shows just how many of the nation’s murders occur in small sections of large cities. Measurements of the data show that small areas around Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Chicago are particularly plagued by murders. Vast portions of the Central and Mountain states have almost none.

Specifically the Crime Prevention Research Center reported:

In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54% of counties (with 11% of the population) have no murders. 69% of counties have no more than one murder, and about 20% of the population. These counties account for only 4% of all murders in the country.

The worst 1% of counties have 19% of the population and 37% of the murders. The worst 5% of counties contain 47% of the population and account for 68% of murders.

The organization used Los Angeles County as evidence of further geographic concentration of murders:

When you look at individual counties with a high number of murders, you find large areas with few murders. Take Los Angeles County, with 526 murders in 2014, the most of any county in the US. The county has virtually no murders in the northwestern part of the county. There was only one murder each in Beverly Hills, Hawthorne, and Van Nuys. Clearly, different parts of the county face very different risks of murder.

If there is any lesson from the data, it is that for the murder rate to drop, it has to be sharply curtailed in areas that, even taken together, are a very small portion of the United States, geographically.