Special Report

The Most Dangerous Cities in America

3. Oakland, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 80
> Population: 409,994
> Poverty rate: 20.1%

Oakland is the only city with high crime rates where a typical household earned more than the typical American household last year, at $56,188 versus $53,657, respectively. In addition, 39.3% of Oakland adults had a bachelor’s degree — also higher than the comparable national education attainment rate of 30.1%. Despite having a higher income than the national median and a relatively educated population, Oakland suffers from a serious crime problem. It had the the highest robbery rate of any large city in the nation, at 849 per 100,000 residents. It had almost double that in motor vehicle thefts — 1,590 per 100,000 residents — also the highest in the nation. Despite having the third highest violent crime rate, the number of reported crimes dropped by about 291 per 100,000 residents, the largest decrease of any major city.

ALSO READ: The 10 Most Livable Cities

2. Memphis, Tennessee
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 140
> Population: 654,922
> Poverty rate: 29.8%

Located along the banks of the Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee, Memphis is home to over half a million people. It is also the second most dangerous city in America. There were 140 homicides and 501 reported rapes in Memphis last year alone.

With 29.8% of residents living in poverty, Memphis’s poverty rate was nearly double the national rate of 15.5%. Similarly, median household income in the city was well below the national median. The typical household in Memphis brought in $34,704 last year, nearly $20,000 less than typical American household. Memphis also had one the higher unemployment rates of any large city in the nation. At 8.7%, it was 2.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

1. Detroit, Michigan
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> 2014 murders: 298
> Population: 684,694
> Poverty rate: 39.3%

Despite crime dropping in the city for three consecutive years, Detroit remains the most dangerous city in America. As is the case with most cities with high crime rates, Detroit’s poverty rate and income levels were among the worst in the country. A typical Detroit household made $25,769 in 2014, second lowest in the country and less than half of what the typical American household made. Similarly, its poverty rate of 39.3% was the second highest in the county well more than double the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

A total of 298 murders were reported in Detroit last year. The only cities with more murder cases were Chicago and New York, whose populations were about four and 12 times larger than Detroit’s, respectively. The Motor City also led the nation in aggravated assaults, with 1,342.4 incidents reported per 100,000 residents — nearly six times the national rate. A city’s crime rate typically increases as its population declines, as residents who can leave undesirable conditions do so. Between 2010 and 2012, Detroit’s violent crime rate decreased even as its population continued to decline — making the drop in crime rate all the more significant.

Click here to see the safest cities in America.

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