Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Soaring

6. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 48.3%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 260.5
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 386.2
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 5.0

Reported violent crimes in the San Luis Obispo area rose from 260.5 per 100,000 residents in 2009 to 386.2 per 100,000 in 2013, a 48.3% increase. The increase in violent crime was driven primarily by an increase in aggravated assaults, which grew by nearly 71% between 2009 and 2013 to 316.8 per 100,000 residents. Other types of crime, such as property crime, did not increase over the five-year period. The relationship between crime rates and an area’s economy is disputed among experts. In the case of San Luis, while the violent crime rate increased dramatically, the area’s unemployment rate fell. Between 2009 and 2013, the jobless rate fell 2.3 percentage points to 6.7%, a lower unemployment rate than the national rate of 7.4% in 2013.

5. Gadsden, AL
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 64.5%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 353.7
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 581.7
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 8.0

While the aggravated assault rate fell by more than 12% across the nation between 2009 and 2013, it more than doubled in the Gadsden metro area to more than 380 such crimes per 100,000 people. The spike in aggravated assaults accounted for the bulk of the violent crime growth of 64% in the area. Financial burdens likely made tackling crime more difficult for city officials, and some argue may have increased the level of crime. A typical household earned less than $40,000 in 2013, one of the lowest median household incomes nationwide. Also, just 16.2% of area adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, much lower than the national rate of 29.6%. Gadsden’s unemployment rate of 6.5%, on the other hand, was lower than the national rate of 7.4% in 2013.

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4. Longview, WA
> 5-year increase in violent crime rate: 67.1%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 212.0
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 354.3
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 1.0

While just one murder was reported per 100,000 people in the Longview area — one of the lowest rates nationwide — rape was reported far more frequently than in other metro areas. There were nearly 100 rapes reported per 100,000 people in 2013, the fifth highest rate nationally, and roughly four times the national rate of 25.2 rapes per 100,000 residents. As in several other cities where crime is soaring, Longview had a relatively high unemployment rate, at 10.1% in 2013. Residents also had relatively low educational attainment rates. Less than 16% of area adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, one of the lowest rates, and almost half the national rate of nearly 30%.