According to Pew Research, the murder rate in America rose by 30% between 2019 and 2020. It was the largest increase since 1905. Most states posted increases. The highest was Montana, up 84%. The same study showed that guns were involved in 77% of murders.
NPR points out that no adequate reasons have been given for the jump but that the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest may be among the culprits.
Currently, the national murder rate stands at 6.5 homicides for every 100,000 people. In many U.S. cities, however, murder rates are far higher than the national average. Using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 24/7 Wall St. identified the U.S. metropolitan area with the most murders. The 291 metros were ranked on their murder rate (that is, the number of reported murders for every 100,000 people in 2020) to identify the top city.
The majority of the metro areas with the highest homicide rates are located in southern states, including five in Louisiana alone.
Despite the rise in homicide rates nationwide, murder is by far the least common form of violent crime, accounting for less than 2% of it. Still, in most of the metro areas with the highest homicide rates, the overall violent crime rate exceeds the national rate of 399 incidents per 100,000 people.
To determine the city with the most murders, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed murder figures from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The rate of murders per 100,000 people was calculated using population data from the FBI.
Limited data were available in the 2020 UCR for areas in Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Illinois, though these places were not excluded from analysis. Only metro areas for which the boundaries defined by the FBI match the boundaries as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau were considered.
Additional information on the violent crime rate is also from the 2020 FBI UCR.
The city with the highest murder rate was Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Here are the details:
- Murder rate: 27.7 per 100,000 people
- Murders reported in 2020: 24 (tied for 97th highest)
- Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,097.8 (fourth highest)
- Population within reporting jurisdiction: 86,540 (13th lowest)