Murders Rose to Over 17,000 in US Last Year

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Violent crime rose in 2016, as did the number of murders in the United States. The data show that violent crime is back on the rise after falling several years. The news will fuel the argument over whether law enforcement or demographic changes are the primary cause.

According to the new 2016 Crime in the United States report:

Violent crime increased for the second consecutive year, while property crime decreased for the 14th straight year, according to the FBI’s annual report on national crime statistics released today. There were an estimated 17,250 murders in the U.S. last year, an 8.6 percent increase from 2015.

Overall violent crime rose 4.1 percent last year, while property crime fell 1.3 percent compared to 2015 figures.

There were 1.2 million violent crimes in the United States last year. That is a five-year increase of 2.6%. The 10-year trend continues to be down, by 12.3%, according to the report.

The FBI’s summary of the categories of crime and their figures in 2016:

Last year’s data shows there were 95,730 rapes reported to law enforcement, based on the UCR’s legacy definition.

Of the violent crimes reported to police in 2016, aggravated assault made up 64.3 percent, while robbery was 26.6 percent. Rape (legacy definition) accounted for 7.7 percent of the violent crimes reported last year, and murder made up 1.4 percent.

About 7.9 million property crimes were reported to the UCR, with losses (excluding arson) of about $15.6 billion.

The report estimates that law enforcement agencies made about 10.7 million arrests in 2016 (excluding arrests for traffic violations).

There has been an ongoing discussion about why crime rates have fallen recently. The same debate could apply to 2016 and its modest increase.

One school of thought is that better law enforcement has lowered crime rates. The other is that demographic trends are the primary cause. As the population has aged, violent crime has dropped. Lower unemployment rates also may be a factor.