Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Most Peaceful) States

5. Minnesota
> Violent crime rate:
234.4 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Murder and non negligent manslaughter rate: 2.1 per 100,000 (10th lowest)
> Median household income: $60,702 (9th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.1% (6th lowest)


While not by any means a guarantee, higher income and lower poverty are usually indicative of less violent crime. Minnesota certainly fits that model. The state’s median household income of $60,702 was ninth highest in the country, and only 11.2% of residents lived below the poverty line, the seventh lowest in the country. Minnesota ranked well in most measures of peace, but in particular, the state boasted an extremely low incarceration rate. Just 189.8 people of every 100,000 residents were in jail or prison, the third lowest rate in the country and well below the national rate of roughly 500 incarcerated people per 100,000 residents. Less densely-populated communities are typically safer than densely clustered areas. Like most of the most peaceful states, Minnesota’s population density of 66.6 people per square mile was lower than the national average.

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4. New Hampshire
> Violent crime rate:
215.3 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Murder and non negligent manslaughter rate: 1.7 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Median household income: $64,230 (7th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.3% (8th lowest)
Four New England states were among the 10 most peaceful in the country, and New Hampshire was one of them. Though violent crime has increased in New Hampshire from 160 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2009, to 215 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2013, the state’s violent crime rate was still the sixth lowest nationwide. Violent crime rates tend to fall as education levels rise, and at 92.8%, New Hampshire had the second highest proportion of high school educated adults in the United States. Financial well-being is also strongly associated with a lower incidence of crime. Only 8.7% of the state’s population lived below the poverty line, the lowest poverty rate in the country and significantly less than the 15.8% national poverty rate.

3. Utah
> Violent crime rate:
224.0 per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Murder and non negligent manslaughter rate: 1.7 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Median household income: $59,770 (11th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 3.8% (4th lowest)
After Vermont and Maine, Utah was the third most peaceful state in the country. Accordingly, the state had a smaller police force. There were only 165 law enforcement employees for every 100,000 state residents, the sixth lowest proportion in the United States. High levels of income inequality generally correlate with more frequent violent crime incidents, and income inequality in Utah was among the lowest in the nation. Only two other states in the country had a narrower gap between the rich and the poor. Also, Utah’s 3.8% unemployment rate was the fourth lowest in the country and significantly lower than the 6.2% national rate. As in most other especially peaceful states, Utah’s population density of 33.6 people per square mile was a fraction of the national average population density of 87.4 people per square mile.

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2. Vermont
> Violent crime rate:
121.1 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> Murder and non negligent manslaughter rate: 1.6 per 100,000 (3rd lowest)
> Median household income: $52,578 (20th highest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 4.1% (6th lowest)
Vermont had the lowest violent crime rate in the nation, at 121.1 reported crimes per 100,000 people. Even with some of the highest gun-ownership rates, Vermont has been routinely reporting some of the lowest firearm-related crime and murder rates in the nation. Relatively strong educational attainment rates among residents and a healthy job market are often associated with a safe environment. Vermont had the seventh highest college attainment rate at 35.7%, and the annual unemployment rate of 4.1% was one of the lowest nationwide. While by numerous measures the state was nearly the most peaceful in the country, a recent surge in heroin usage and crime associated with the drug trade may tarnish Vermonters’ sense of security. Governor Peter Shumlin addressed the crisis in his 2014 State of the State speech. According to the Boston Globe, heroin overdoses in the state doubled last year, and treatments for the drug have increased 250%.

1. Maine
> Violent crime rate:
129.3 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
> Murder and non negligent manslaughter rate: 1.8 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> Median household income: $46,974 (16th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 5.7% (21st lowest)
Maine ranked as the most peaceful state in the country, performing well in each of the five measures considered. The state had a murder rate of less than half the national rate, as well as the second lowest violent crime rate, only just slightly higher than Vermont’s. Not surprisingly, the state incarcerated the smallest proportion of its population in the nation, at just 163.6 people per 100,000 residents — less than a third of the national incarceration rate. While it was the most peaceful state, Maine did not display all the characteristics of a state with low violence. For example, income tends to be higher in low-crime areas, but Maine’s median household income of $46,974 was the 16th lowest in the country. By other demographic measures, however, the state fits the profile as a peaceful place. For example, just under 92% of Maine’s adults had at least a high school diploma, the fifth highest rate in the country.

Click here to see the least peaceful states in America.

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