Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Denver, Colorado 3
Source: Thinkstock

30. Colorado
> Violent crime rate: 309.1 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.8 per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Median household income: $61,303 (12th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (10th lowest)

Higher educational attainment and higher incomes among a population typically correlate with a lower crime rate. In Colorado, 38.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the second highest share in the country. The state’s median household income of $61,303 is nearly $8,000 more than the income a typical American household earns a year. Given the high educational attainment and relative prosperity of state residents, it is perhaps not surprising that both violent crime and property crime are less common in Colorado than they are across the country as a whole.

Richmond, Virginia 2
Source: Thinkstock

29. Virginia
> Violent crime rate: 196.2 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 4.1 per 100,000 (24th highest)
> Median household income: $64,902 (8th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (10th lowest)

There are only 196 violent crimes in Virginia each year for every 100,000 residents, fewer than in all but four other states. The low incidence of violent crime is likely due in part to the high educational attainment and a relatively low poverty rate in the state. The state’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate among adults of 36.7% is the sixth highest in the country, and only 11.8% of state residents live in poverty compared to 15.5% of Americans.

Wisconsin (farm)
Source: Thinkstock

28. Wisconsin
> Violent crime rate: 290.3 per 100,000 (21st lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.9 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Median household income: $52,622 (25th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.2% (20th lowest)

Violent crime rates in many states are driven up by concentrated pockets of relatively high violence in major metropolitan areas. However, Wisconsin cities are especially safe. Of the 12 major metro areas in the state, Milwaukee is the only one with a violent crime rate that exceeds the national rate of 366 incidents per 100,000 people a year.

New York City, Manhattan
Source: Thinkstock

27. New York
> Violent crime rate: 381.8 per 100,000 (19th highest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 3.1 per 100,000 (21st lowest)
> Median household income: $58,878 (16th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.7% (25th highest)

The violent crime rate in New York is slightly higher than the nationwide yearly rate of 366 incidents per 100,000 people. A higher prevalence of such crimes is likely partially due to some below average socioeconomic conditions. A person actively engaged in the workforce is less likely to commit crimes, and the state’s labor force participation rate of 60.8% is slightly below the 62.7% national rate. New York’s poverty rate is also slightly higher than the national rate.

New River Bridge, West Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

26. West Virginia
> Violent crime rate: 302.0 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 4.0 per 100,000 (25th highest)
> Median household income: $41,059 (2nd lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 6.0% (6th highest)

Poor socioeconomic conditions often correlate with higher incidence of crime. With the lowest labor force participation rate in the country, West Virginia’s economy is one of the nation’s worst. However, the state is not especially violent, reporting lower than average violent and property crime rates. Perhaps as a result, there are only 243 people employed in law enforcement for every 100,000 West Virginia residents, less than the national share of 282 law enforcement employees per 100,000 people.

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