For years, experts have maintained that increases in unemployment and poverty result in rising crime rates. Data released earlier this year from the FBI show a marked decrease in the national violent crime rate, dropping from 431.9 crimes per 100,000 individuals to 403.6. This is the fourth year in a row crime has gone down, even as unemployment and poverty have continued to skyrocket. Experts are stumped.
There are some cities, however, where crime rates have increased. Using statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports database, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) that bucked the national trend and experienced the largest increases in violent crime from 2005 to 2010.
Looking at all of these cities, there are no clear trends for any of the things that experts say cause crime to increase. Some of the areas where crime has risen have high poverty rates, low median income and high unemployment rates. Others are quite wealthy, with high median income and poverty rates half the national average. One of the cities where violent crime is soaring, Bismarck, N.D., had the lowest unemployment rate in the country last year, but violent crime still managed to more than double between 2005 and 2010.
National violent crime rates that improve as the economy worsens suggest that unemployment and poverty are not the main drivers of crime. That the cities with the largest increases in violent crime are so different suggests the same. What accounted for rising incidences of assault, murder and robbery were things like the spread of regional gangs, changes in law enforcement tactics, and funding issues — and usually not just one of these. For these cities, the national trend is irrelevant. The problem must be tackled at the local level.
These are the cities where violent crime is soaring.