The Most Dangerous Cities in America

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 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,596.1
> 2015 murders: 145
> Poverty rate: 29.4%
> Unemployment rate: 6.7%

Even as the nation’s population increased by 3.2% over the five years ending in 2015, violent crime fell by 0.7% over that period. In Milwaukee, however, although the population rose by just 0.5%, the number of violent crimes rose by 60.5% — from less than 6,000 incidents to more than 9,500. In just five years, the city moved from the 29th most dangerous city to the fifth most dangerous among major U.S. cities. A major driver of that increase was aggravated assault incidents — the number of aggravated assaults nearly doubled during that time.

Memphis, Tennessee

4. Memphis, Tennessee
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,740.1
> 2015 murders: 135
> Poverty rate: 27.4%
> Unemployment rate: 7.3%

Memphis’s violent crime rate of 1,740 incidents per 100,000 residents trails only three other U.S. cities. Nationwide, aggravated assault is the most common of all violent crimes. In Memphis, there were 7,653 reported aggravated assaults in 2015, or 1,163 per 100,000 people, the highest such rate of any other city.

Like many violent cities, Memphis’s economy is in poor shape. More than a quarter of city residents live below the poverty line, and the 7.3% unemployment rate in 2015 was 2 percentage points higher than national unemployment rate.

Skyline of Birmingham in Alabama City

3. Birmingham, Alabama
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,746.2
> 2015 murders: 79
> Poverty rate: 31.0%
> Unemployment rate: 7.2%

Violent crime in Birmingham, Alabama’s increased by 10% from 2014 and by 17.2% from 2011. As the third most violent city in the country, Birmingham’s murder, robbery, and aggravated assault rates are each among the top five of all major U.S. cities. As in many high crime areas, poverty is relatively common in Birmingham. Citywide, 31% of residents live in poverty, a higher poverty rate than that of all but a dozen other large U.S. cities.

Detroit, Michigan

2. Detroit, Michigan
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,759.6
> 2015 murders: 295
> Poverty rate: 39.8%
> Unemployment rate: 12.4%

There were 1,760 violent crimes in Detroit for every 100,000 city residents in 2015. Though the city’s violent crime rate is down 22.3% from 2011, it is the second highest in the country.

Detroit’s high violent crime rate is likely tied to the few opportunities the dismal economic climate provides. Nearly 40% of city residents live in poverty, and 12.4% of the workforce was unemployed as of 2015, each the highest share of any major U.S. city.

St. Louis, Missouri 3

1. St. Louis, Missouri
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,817.1
> 2015 murders: 188
> Poverty rate: 27.8%
> Unemployment rate: 6.1%

Including 188 homicides, there were 5,762 violent crimes in St. Louis in 2015. Adjusting for population, the city’s murder and violent crime rates, at 59 murders and 1,817 per 100,000 city residents, are each the highest in the country. The number of violent crimes reported in St. Louis increased by 7.7% last year, faster than the national uptick of 3.9%. Over the last five years, however, the incidence of violent crime is down by 3.2%.

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