Special Report

Houston, TX Is Among the Most Dangerous US Metro Areas

Sean Pavone / Getty Images

The U.S. violent crime rate — an annual, population-adjusted measure of cases of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and homicide — climbed by 5% in 2020. The increase was driven by a rise in aggravated assault and, most notably, a historic 29% surge in homicides that made 2020 the deadliest year in the United States since the mid-1990s.

Despite the largest single-year increase in homicides on record, the overall violent crime rate in 2020 remains relatively low by historical standards. There were 1.3 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. in 2020, or 399 for every 100,000 people. For context, the violent crime rate ranged between 523 and 758 incidents per 100,000 throughout the 1990s.

Of course, crime is a local phenomenon influenced by a wide range of factors. As a result, violent crime rates in the U.S. can vary considerably from place to place — and in some metro areas, rates of violence far exceed the nation-level highs recorded in decades past.

There were 45,368 violent crimes committed in Houston — one of the largest metro areas in the country — last year. Even after adjusting for its large population, the local violent crime rate is higher than in most of the rest of the country, at 632 incidents per 100,000 people. The metro area’s robbery rate of 168 incidents for every 100,000 people is particularly high, ranking in the top 10 metros for robberies.

Violence in Houston has continued to increase in 2021. Homicides in the city are up 29% so far this year compared to the same period last year. Firearms are a common factor in many violent crimes across the metro area.

Metro areas are ranked on their violent crime rate using data from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report. Additional data on specific crimes are also from the 2020 FBI UCR. Poverty rates are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

 

Rank Metro area Violent crimes per 100,000 people, 2020 Total violent crimes, 2020 Murders per 100,000 people, 2020 Total murders, 2020
1 Memphis, TN 1,359 18,324 24.2 327
2 Monroe, LA 1,309 2,605 11.6 23
3 Anchorage, AK 1,171 3,576 5.9 18
4 Pine Bluff, AR 1,098 950 27.7 24
5 Detroit, MI 1,088 18,894 22.3 387
6 Danville, IL 1,050 785 17.4 13
7 Albany, GA 1,008 1,469 15.8 23
8 Albuquerque, NM 1,006 9,296 9.4 87
9 Alexandria, LA 968 1,464 14.5 22
10 Little Rock, AR 939 7,014 13.1 98
11 Lubbock, TX 919 2,985 9.5 31
12 Florence, SC 860 1,764 19.0 39
13 Fairbanks, AK 841 277 9.1 3
14 Sumter, SC 812 1,140 19.9 28
15 Saginaw, MI 795 1,501 17.5 33
16 Lake Charles, LA 789 1,663 9.0 19
17 Rockford, IL 771 2,566 10.8 36
18 Gainesville, FL 760 2,516 5.1 17
19 Corpus Christi, TX 738 3,176 10.0 43
20 Stockton, CA 723 5,517 11.0 84
21 Pueblo, CO 722 1,216 10.7 18
22 Macon, GA 708 1,624 19.2 44
23 Odessa, TX 697 1,180 11.2 19
24 Bakersfield, CA 692 6,216 12.9 116
25 Shreveport, LA 683 2,683 21.6 85
26 Milwaukee, WI 678 10,688 13.1 206
27 Amarillo, TX 673 1,787 6.8 18
28 Springfield, IL 667 1,369 5.8 12
29 Rapid City, SD 665 957 10.4 15
30 Niles, MI 664 1,013 5.2 8
31 Battle Creek, MI 664 886 10.5 14
32 Kalamazoo, MI 663 1,763 7.5 20
33 Farmington, NM 661 817 3.2 4
34 Jonesboro, AR 660 893 9.6 13
35 South Bend, IN 655 2,121 9.3 30
36 Houston, TX 632 45,368 9.2 662
37 Springfield, MO 632 2,993 5.5 26
38 Billings, MT 627 1,152 8.2 15
39 Jackson, TN 625 1,115 9.5 17
40 New Orleans, LA 624 7,960 21.7 277
41 Nashville, TN 616 12,137 7.7 152
42 Fort Smith, AR 615 1,541 4.4 11
43 Chattanooga, TN 613 3,487 7.9 45
44 Beaumont, TX 606 2,372 8.9 35
45 Kokomo, IN 604 498 9.7 8
46 Lawton, OK 603 759 12.7 16
47 Merced, CA 599 1,660 8.7 24
48 Fresno, CA 597 5,948 9.4 94
49 Tulsa, OK 591 5,947 9.3 94
50 Hot Springs, AR 583 582 9.0 9

 

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