Special Report

The Most Dangerous Cities in America

10. Birmingham, Ala.
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,345
> Population: 212,001
> 2013 murders: 63 (25th highest)
> Poverty rate: 30.7% (18th highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school degree: 84.0% (105th lowest)

More than 1,300 violent crimes per 100,000 residents were reported in Birmingham in 2013, the 10th highest rate in the country. Still, this was an improvement from 2012, when more than 1,500 violent crimes per 100,000 residents were reported. In 2013, aggravated assault accounted for more than half of the violent crimes in Birmingham. The city’s poor socioeconomic climate may explain the high crime rates. The city’s poverty rate was 30.7% in 2013, nearly twice the national rate of 15.8%. Additionally, median household income was just $31,152 in 2013, or more than $20,000 less than national median. Low incomes, in turn, may be connected to low levels of education. Just 25.9% of Birmingham residents had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, well below the national rate of 29.6%.

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9. Milwaukee, Wis.
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,364
> Population: 600,805
> 2013 murders: 104 (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 29.0% (29th highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school degree: 81.8% (tied-73rd lowest)

Violent crime in Milwaukee has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of reported incidents rising from 1,045 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 1,364 per 100,000 residents in 2013. However, an increase in the number of reported crimes may not mean that Milwaukee has gotten more dangerous. A 2012 report by the Journal Sentinel, a local Wisconsin newspaper, found that police in Milwaukee had misreported thousands of crimes in prior years, which led to lower crime rates. Further, while Milwaukee reported a large number of violent crimes, its property crime rate was comparatively low, ranking just 83rd among cities with at least 100,000 residents.

8. Rockford, Ill.
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,375
> Population: 150,209
> 2013 murders: 19 (82nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 23.2% (74th highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school degree: 83.6% (95th lowest)

Rockford was one of only three cities where the aggravated assault rate exceeded 1,000 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2013. The city’s murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate was 13 per 100,000, much lower than in many other dangerous cities, but still close to three times the national murder rate of 4.5 per 100,000 residents. Property crimes, too, were slightly less prevalent than in other dangerous cities. There were just 248 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 Rockford residents last year, slightly higher than the national rate, but exceptionally low compared to other large cities with high violent crime rates. Yet, arson was quite common, with 71 incidents per 100,000 in 2013, more than in all but four other cities.

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7. Baltimore, Maryland
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,401
> Population: 622,671
> 2013 murders: 233 (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 23.3% (73rd highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school degree: 81.8% (tied-73rd lowest)

The number of violent crimes in Baltimore fell from 9,316 in 2010 to 8,725 last year, coinciding with the nationwide decline in violent crimes in recent years. However, Baltimore is still among the most dangerous cities. There were just 4.5 murders per 100,000 people in the United States last year. In Baltimore, the murder rate was 37 per 100,000 residents, higher than in all but four other large U.S. cities. Robberies were a major contributor to the area’s violent crime statistics, as 600 incidents were reported per 100,000 residents, versus a national robbery rate of less than 110 per 100,000 residents last year.

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