In 1991, homicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. That year, there were 24,703 murders in the U.S., contributing to the highest violent crime rate in decades. Since the early 90s, violent crime has declined nearly every year. In 2014, there were only 14,249 murders in the country.
Violent crime is a broad category that includes rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder. While these crimes have become less and less common nationwide, some metro areas have experienced a dramatic spike. In San Luis Obispo, California, the violent crime increased from 267 reported incidents per 100,000 people in 2010 to 421 incidents per 100,000 people in 2014. Based on figures published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, these are the metropolitan areas with the greatest increases in violent crime.
A dramatic uptick in the prevalence of violent crime over a five year period does not necessarily mean that a city is especially dangerous. Four of the 10 cities with the highest five-year increases still have a lower violent crime rate than the national rate of 366 incidents per 100,000 people. Green Bay, Wisconsin, had the third fastest increase, yet with only 219 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, it is still a relatively safe city.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said, “Wealth tends to make people risk averse, and that would cause violence to decline.” In eight of the 10 cities with the fastest climbing violent crime rates, a typical household earns less than the national median of $53,657. In Hanford-Corcoran, California, where crime has spiked by nearly 30%, 26.6% of city residents live in poverty, one of the highest poverty rates in the country.
Some cities are likely experiencing a rise in crime due to policy that may have hurt an area’s ability to fight and address crime. According to Roman, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has slashed public expenditures. This has translated to “fewer police, fewer dispatchers, fewer classes coming out of the training academy, fewer parole and probation agents [as well as] fewer, and less well-trained correctional officers, and fewer services for returning prisoners. And at the end of the day, all of that adds up.” Two of the five cities with rapidly increasing crime rates are in Wisconsin.
Based on figures published by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 metropolitan statistical areas where crime rates rose the most from 2010 to 2014, the most recent available year of data. In order to be considered, areas had to retain the same geographic boundaries during the period covered, and they had to retain consistent reporting practices. Additionally, we reviewed annual unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2010 and 2014. We also considered data from the Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey on household income, educational attainment rates, and poverty.
These are the 10 U.S. cities where violent crime is soaring.