For years, experts have maintained that crime rates increase with rising unemployment and poverty rates. Yet data released earlier this year from the FBI show a marked decrease in the national violent crime rate between 2005 and 2010 even as unemployment and poverty have continued to skyrocket. Experts are stumped. Using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports database, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the 10 metropolitan areas where violent crime rates decreased the most.
Nationwide, the crime rate has declined 13.9% from 469 incidents per 100,000 individuals in 2005 to 403.6 in 2010. In fact, 2010 was the fourth year in a row crime has declined in the U.S. Looking at the 328 metropolitan statistical ares (MSAs), it’s clear that in some cities crime rates have dropped even more than the national average. In the ten regions 24/7 Wall St. has identified, the rate has dropped by 25%-50%.
The ten cities, however, do not share any clear trends or characteristics to explain the cause behind their decreased crime rates. Some of them have high poverty rates, low median incomes and high unemployment rates. Others are quite wealthy, with high median incomes and low poverty rates that are about half the national average. In many of them, however, crime still remains a severe problem, despite the decline.
If poverty and unemployment cannot explain the dramatic drops in crime rates, what can? 24/7 found that what accounted for those declining incidences of assault, murder and robbery were local projects, improvements in law enforcement, and urban development — usually, a combination of these. While many of these cities still have a long way to go, they have had success at fighting crime on a local level.
These are the cities where violent crime is plummeting.