Why Is Detroit the Most Dangerous City in US?

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The crime rate in Detroit, a city that has lost half its population since 1960, outdistances that of any other large city in the United States. Statistics show why the figures are so high.

24/7 Wall St. looked at violent crime rates among the nation’s cities with populations of 100,000 or more from the FBI’s 2014 Uniform Crime Report.

Despite crime dropping in the city for three consecutive years, Detroit remains the most dangerous city in America. As is the case with most cities with high crime rates, Detroit’s poverty rate and income levels were among the worst in the country. A typical Detroit household made $25,769 in 2014, second lowest in the country and less than half of what the typical American household made. Similarly, its poverty rate of 39.3% was the second highest in the county, well more than double the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

A total of 298 murders were reported in Detroit last year. The only cities with more murder cases were Chicago and New York, whose populations were about four and 12 times larger than Detroit’s, respectively. The Motor City also led the nation in aggravated assaults, with 1,342.4 incidents reported per 100,000 residents — nearly six times the national rate. A city’s crime rate typically increases as its population declines, as residents who can leave undesirable conditions do so. Between 2010 and 2012, Detroit’s violent crime rate decreased even as its population continued to decline, making the drop in crime rate all the more significant.

Detroit’s population in 1950 was 1.8 million. Today, that figure is below 700,000, according to the U.S. Census. A major reason for the drop is that the large American car companies have moved their manufacturing elsewhere. The only one of The Big Three with its headquarters in Detroit is General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM).

The health of the city, or lack thereof, is highlighted by Detroit’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July 2013. The decision cut the city’s debt, but it still has challenges due to a tax base eroded by poverty.

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