Special Report

The Most Dangerous Cities in America

streets of washington dc
Source: Thinkstock

15. Washington, District of Columbia
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,202.6
> 2015 murders: 162
> Poverty rate: 18.2%
> Unemployment rate: 6.9%

With over 8,000 violent crimes in 2015, Washington D.C. is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Robberies are especially common in the nation’s capital, with 506 incidents per 100,000 residents, roughly five times the corresponding national rate. There were also 162 murders in the city in 2015, more than in all but nine other cities.

San Bernardino, California
Source: Thinkstock

14. San Bernardino, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,245.9
> 2015 murders: 44
> Poverty rate: 33.0%
> Unemployment rate: 8.2%

While the relationship between violent crime and socioeconomic measures — such as education, poverty, and unemployment — is complicated, cities with high rates of violent crime tend to also share certain characteristics. For example, as is the case with most violent cities, San Bernardino adults tend to have belowaverage educational attainment. In fact, just 67.7% of the area’s adults have a high school diploma and 11.7% a college degree. These are nearly the lowest rates of any major U.S. city.

Indianapolis, Indiana
Source: Thinkstock

13. Indianapolis, Indiana
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,288.0
> 2015 murders: 148
> Poverty rate: 21.4%
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%

Aggravated assault and robbery contribute the most to violent crime nationwide — and Indianapolis is no different. The city reported 440 robberies and 752 aggravated assaults per 100,000 people in 2015, much more than the national rates of 102 and 238 per 100,000 people, respectively. The murder and rape rates in Indianapolis were also well above the national figures.

Stockton, California
Source: Wikimedia Commons

12. Stockton, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,352.0
> 2015 murders: 49
> Poverty rate: 25.8%
> Unemployment rate: 9.6%

While the relationship is not always clear cut, those who have access to a decent-paying job appear to be less likely to engage in either violent or nonviolent crime. It may also be the case that violent crime can, for a number of reasons, stunt a regional economy and the earning potential of the area’s residents. At the very least, both unemployment and poverty are very high in the majority of high crime cities. Stockton, California exhibits similar trends. The city, which has the 12th-highest violent crime rate of major U.S. cities, also had the fifth highest annual unemployment rate and, and more than one in every four residents live in poverty.

Springfield, Missouri
Source: Thinkstock

11. Springfield, Missouri
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,355.6
> 2015 murders: 10
> Poverty rate: 26.4%
> Unemployment rate: 4.3%

Crime rates tend to be higher in economically depressed areas where opportunities are scarce. In Springfield, Missouri, more than one-quarter of area residents live in poverty, one of the highest poverty rates in the country. After spiking by 73.2% over the five years through 2015 — the second highest increase of any major U.S. city — Springfield’s violent crime rate is the 11th highest in the country. In 2015, there were 179 rapes for every 100,000 residents, the highest incidence of rape in the country.

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