Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Courthouse and Jailhouse Rock, Nebraska
Source: Thinkstock

35. Nebraska
> Violent crime rate: 280.4 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.9 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Median household income: $52,686 (24th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.0% (3rd lowest)

Participation in the workforce makes an individual less likely to commit crime. Nebraska’s lower than average violent crime rate is likely due in part to a high labor force participation rate and a low unemployment rate. Exactly 70% of Nebraska’s population is either employed or actively looking for a job, the third highest participation rate of any state. Additionally, only 3.0% of the state’s workforce are unemployed, far fewer than the 4.9% national unemployment rate.

Wyoming
Source: Thinkstock

34. Wyoming
> Violent crime rate: 195.5 per 100,000 (3rd lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.7 per 100,000 (15th lowest)
> Median household income: $57,055 (18th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.7% (12th highest)

In Wyoming, 63.8% of all suicides involve a firearm, one of the highest shares of any state. Handguns are primarily purchased for self defense, and while a disproportionate number of suicides involving a firearm suggests a higher than average handgun ownership rate, Wyoming is a relatively peaceful state overall. Among other crimes, robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary are less common in Wyoming than they are across the country as a whole. Additionally, the state’s incarceration rate of 408 prisoners for every 100,000 state residents is slightly lower than the national rate of 490 prisoners per 100,000 people.

Kentucky Farm
Source: Thinkstock

33. Kentucky
> Violent crime rate: 211.6 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 3.6 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $42,958 (5th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.0% (19th highest)

Most states are less peaceful than Kentucky. The state’s violent crime rate of 212 incidents reported for every 100,000 Kentuckians is the sixth lowest compared with other states. While peaceful states tend to have more economic opportunities, Kentucky residents are not on the whole well-off financially. Nearly one in five people live in poverty in the state, the fifth highest poverty rate of all states.

Jersey City, New Jersey
Source: Thinkstock

32. New Jersey
> Violent crime rate: 261.2 per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 3.9 per 100,000 (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $71,919 (2nd highest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.1% (17th highest)

A prevalence of crime often correlates to lower income, and New Jersey is home to some of the highest earners in the country. The typical New Jersey household earns $71,919 a year, far more than the $53,657 the typical American household earns. With higher incomes, state residents also have a lower crime rate. Rape, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and murder are all less common in New Jersey than they are across the country as a whole.

Helena, Montana
Source: Thinkstock

31. Montana
> Violent crime rate: 323.7 per 100,000 (25th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 3.6 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $46,328 (10th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.2% (20th lowest)

In a perfectly peaceful state, there would be no need to own firearms for personal protection. In Montana, more than half of all adults own a firearm, a larger share than in all but a handful of other states. Despite the high gun ownership rate, Montana is a relatively peaceful place. Violent crime, robbery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft are all less common in Big Sky Country than they are across the country as a whole.

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