Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Chicago, Illinois
Source: Thinkstock

20. Illinois
> Violent crime rate: 370.0 per 100,000 (21st highest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 5.3 per 100,000 (15th highest)
> Median household income: $57,444 (17th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 6.2% (3rd highest)

The level of violence in Illinois is similar to that of the nation. The state has a violent crime rate of 370 incidents annually per 100,000 residents, which is in line with the national rate of 366 incidents per 100,000 residents. More than 48,000 people are incarcerated in Illinois, the eighth most in the country. However, Illinois is also a large state, and relative to its population, the state’s incarceration rate is the 30th highest in the United States.

Biloxi Beach at Sunset, Mississippi
Source: Thinkstock

19. Mississippi
> Violent crime rate: 278.5 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 8.6 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $39,680 (the lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.9% (8th highest)

Slightly less than 30% of adults nationwide own a firearm, while 42.8% of adults in Mississippi do. The greater prevalence of firearms in a state can often lead to higher rates of gun violence, both self-inflicted and otherwise. While roughly 50% of suicides nationwide are firearm-related, guns are involved in 69.1% of Mississippi’s suicides, the highest proportion in the country. The state also has the third-highest rate of firearm deaths, at 18.3 for every 100,000 residents.

Charlotte, North Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

18. North Carolina
> Violent crime rate: 329.5 per 100,000 (24th highest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 5.1 per 100,000 (16th highest)
> Median household income: $46,556 (11th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.9% (21st highest)

By several measures, North Carolina is less peaceful than the country as a whole. Law enforcement is an inherently violent job, and there are 373 people employed in law enforcement for every 100,000 North Carolinians, far more than the 282 per 100,000 national ratio. Additionally, while the overall violent crime rate in North Carolina is slightly lower than the national rate, homicides are more common. There are 5.1 murders a year in North Carolina for every 100,000 residents, slightly more than the corresponding national rate.

Detroit, Michigan
Source: Thinkstock

17. Michigan
> Violent crime rate: 427.3 per 100,000 (13th highest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 5.4 per 100,000 (14th highest)
> Median household income: $49,847 (20th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.6% (24th lowest)

Michigan has one of the higher violent crime rates in the country, at 427 incidents for every 100,000 residents. Metropolitan areas such as Detroit, which has a violent crime rate of 529 incidents per 100,000 residents, drive up the state’s rate. So far in 2016, the state has had eight mass shootings, which left 13 dead and 27 wounded. Only six states have had more than eight mass shootings this year.

Albuquerque, New Mexico 2
Source: Thinkstock

16. New Mexico
> Violent crime rate: 597.4 per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 4.8 per 100,000 (18th highest)
> Median household income: $44,803 (8th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 6.2% (3rd highest)

Many of the most violent states, including New Mexico, are located in the Western United States. The state is one of only a dozen to report an uptick in violent crime since 2010. Today, there are 597 violent crimes in New Mexico for every 100,000 state residents, more than in all but three other states. Those who are members of the work force are less likely to commit crimes than their disengaged counterparts, and New Mexico’s labor force participation rate is one of the lowest in the country. Only 57.4% of the state’s population is either employed or actively seeking a job, a considerably smaller share than the 62.7% comparable national rate.

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