Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Portland Lighthouse, Maine
Source: Thinkstock

50. Maine
> Violent crime rate: 127.8 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 1.6 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Median household income: $49,462 (19th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (10th lowest)

Based on a range of social and economic measures, Maine is the most peaceful state in the country. There are 127.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in a year, the second lowest rate of all states. With such low crime levels, fewer resources are needed by the state to contain violence. For every 100,000 Mainers, there are 169 prisoners of state correctional facilities, also the second lowest incarceration level of all states.

Maine is part of New England, where lower population densities and relative economic prosperity are likely contributing to less violence. Like most of New England, Maine’s unemployment rate of 3.7% and its poverty rate of 14.1% are each lower than the national rates. However, of the 10 most peaceful states, Maine is the only state where the typical household does not earn more than the national median household income of $53,657.

Burlington (Chittenden County), Vermont
Source: Thinkstock

49. Vermont
> Violent crime rate: 99.3 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 1.6 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Median household income: $54,166 (20th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.2% (5th lowest)

The most peaceful states tend to have relatively small populations, especially states in the Northeast. With a population of 626,562, Vermont is no exception. At 99 reported incidents per 100,000 people, Vermont has the lowest violent crime rate in the country. Property crimes such as larceny, and theft are also less common in Vermont than in any other state.

A person who is either employed or actively seeking work is less likely to commit a violent crime than someone who is completely disengaged. In Vermont, 67.2% of the population participates in the labor force, one of the largest shares of any state in the country. A highly educated population also tends to be more peaceful. In Vermont, 34.9% of the population has a bachelor’s degree, a higher share than in all but a handful other states.

New Hampshire
Source: Thinkstock

48. New Hampshire
> Violent crime rate: 196.1 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 0.9 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> Median household income: $66,532 (7th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 2.8% (2nd lowest)

Nationwide, the incidence of violent crime is trending downwards. New Hampshire’s violent crime rate of just under 200 incidents per 100,000 people is well below the national rate of 366 per 100,000 Americans. However, like just 12 other states, crime in the state has risen since 2010. Still, New Hampshire residents live in one of the most peaceful states in the country. Economic prosperity certainly helps keep the peace. Just 9.2% of people live in poverty, and only 2.8% of the workforce is unemployed — the lowest and second-lowest proportions of all states.

High levels of education in a community are strongly associated with peacefulness — and New Hampshire residents tend to be very well educated. The percentages of adults with at least a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree — at 92.0% and 35%, respectively — are each among the highest educational attainment rates of all states.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Source: Thinkstock

47. Minnesota
> Violent crime rate: 229.1 per 100,000 (10th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 1.6 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Median household income: $61,481 (10th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.8% (13th lowest)

States bear much of the cost of violence by paying for enforcement and correctional efforts. People living in violent communities are burdened making ends meet without the aid of family members who may be incarcerated or victimized by violence, or by enduring stress from fear of crime. At the same time, peacefulness can arise from economic prosperity.

Minnesota, one of the most peaceful states in the nation, has a relatively strong economy. The percentage of residents working or looking for work in Minnesota, at 70.5%, is the highest of all states and a strong indication that the economy is doing well. By contrast, the national labor force participation rate is 62.7%. Minnesota residents are also relatively well-off financially. The typical household earns $61,481 annually, the 10th highest median household income nationwide.

Provo, Utah
Source: Thinkstock

46. Utah
> Violent crime rate: 215.6 per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.3 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> Median household income: $60,922 (13th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.0% (15th lowest)

Utah is the most peaceful state in the Western United States and one of the most peaceful in the country. Economic stability is a major driver of peace, and Utah residents are, by many measures, relatively prosperous. Only 11.7% of Utah’s population lives in poverty, a considerably lower share than the 15.5% national poverty rate. Furthermore, people in Utah are more likely to be actively engaged in the workforce than most Americans. The state’s labor force participation rate of 68.4% is the eighth highest in the country.

With a lower poverty rate than the national rate and greater labor force engagement, violent crime is relatively rare in Utah. There are 216 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents each year in Utah, far fewer than the 366 incidents per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

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