Economy

This Is America's Most Dangerous State

When it comes to where people live, danger can be defined in several ways. Certainly, the weather plays some role in states that have areas prone to wildfires and floods. Some states have worse air pollution than others. Additionally, earthquakes have been destructive and could be again. Much rarer are states where there has been volcanic activity.

Another commonly used yardstick for danger in a state, county or city is crime rates. Some of these crimes are much more dangerous than others.

Violent crime (a broad category of offenses that includes robbery, aggravated assault and homicide) is on the rise in the United States. According to FBI data, there were a total of 1.3 million violent offenses reported in 2020, or 388 for every 100,000 people. That was a 5% increase from 2019.

The uptick was led by a spike in homicide. The number of murders surged by nearly 30%, from 16,669 in 2019 to 21,570 in 2020, the largest year-over-year increase on record. The spike in murders came during a year of national turmoil, marked by coronavirus lockdowns, mass protests against police misconduct and a sharp rise in gun sales.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2020 violent crime rates from the FBI to identify the most dangerous state in America. States are ranked by their overall violent crime adjusted for the population. Violent crime rates in the 50 states range from 109 to more than 800 incidents per 100,000 people.

The states with the lowest violent crime rates are disproportionately located in the northeast, particularly New England. Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state with a higher than average violent crime rate, and four of the five states with the lowest violent crime rates are in New England.

Most states reported an increase in violence in 2020. Still, 14 states reported a decline in the rates of violence. However, several of these states still have some of the highest violent crime rates in the country.

The analysis found that the most dangerous state in America is Alaska. Here are the details:

  • Violent crimes in 2020: 838 per 100,000 people (6,126 total)
  • One-year change in violent crime rate: −3.4%
  • Homicides in 2020: 49 (10th fewest)

Alaska’s violent crime rate is far and away the highest of any state. The majority of the 6,126 violent crimes reported in the state in 2020 (69%) were aggravated assaults. Still, Alaska’s violent crime rate is 3.4% lower than it was in 2019, making the state one of only 14 to report a year-over-year decline in violence.

Violence in Alaska tends to be highly concentrated in certain cities. In the Anchorage metropolitan area, for example, there were 1,171 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2020. That metro area alone accounted for over 58% of all the violent crimes committed in Alaska in 2020, yet is home to only 42% of the state’s population.

Click here to see all of America’s most dangerous states.