Cities across the United States have reported a spike in gun violence and homicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first six months of 2020, the increase in murders nationwide was nearly 15%, and across a sample of 59 cities tracked by the FBI, the number of murders was up 28% from January through July, compared to the same period in 2019.
The increase reflects a sudden reversal of a long-term trend, as violent crime had fallen in the United States for four consecutive years. In 2019, 367 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 people in the United States, a low not seen since 2014, and a far cry from the highs of the early 1990s that topped 750 violent crimes per 100,000 people annually.
While a complete picture of the incidence of violence in the United States in 2020 remains to be seen, dozens of cities across the country were already plagued by violence before this turbulent year.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates in the 295 U.S. cities tracked by the FBI that are home to at least 100,000 people to determine the 25 most dangerous cities in America. Violent crime rates are population-adjusted figures calculated using the number of rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults and homicides committed in 2019 per 100,000 people.
Violent crime is a difficult social phenomenon to explain. Certain factors, however, may affect the incidence of violence, especially employment. Higher employment rates among at-risk groups have been shown to reduce the likelihood of violent crime, and some experts are pointing to the ongoing unemployment crisis to help explain the current surge in violence nationwide. Indeed, many of the cities on this list were struggling with widespread joblessness even before the COVID-19 recession. These are the 25 most dangerous cities in America.
The relationship between income and crime is complicated, but cities with high poverty also often have higher crime rates. In the vast majority of cities on this list, the poverty rate exceeds the 14.1% national rate. Here is a list of America’s poorest cities.
Detroit is the most dangerous city in America. The violent crime rate in the city in 2019 was 1,965 per 100,000 people, for a total of 13,040. The total homicides reported in 2019 reached 275. Detroit’s 2019 poverty rate was 36.4%, and the annual unemployment rate for the same year was 8.8%. The city’s 2019 population was 663,502.
Aggravated assaults account for the largest share of violent crimes in the city, followed by robberies.
Violence nationwide tends to be more concentrated in lower-income areas with limited economic opportunities. Detroit has one of the highest percentages of people living below the poverty line among American’s largest cities. Detroit’s unusually high poverty and jobless figures compare to the national 14.1% poverty rate and 3.7% annual jobless rate.