5. Naperville, Illinois
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 87.0
> 2015 murders: 0
> Poverty rate: 4.3%
> Unemployment rate: 4.5%
There is often less crime in wealthy areas with low poverty, and Naperville is no exception. The typical Naperville household earns $109,512 annually, the second highest median income of any large U.S. city. Similarly, the 4.3% poverty rate is the second lowest. The drivers of crime levels appear to be very localized. While suburban Naperville is one of the safest cities in the country, neighboring Chicago is one of the most dangerous. There were 478 reported murders or instances of nonnegligent manslaughter in Chicago in 2015, more than in any other city in the country.
4. Gilbert, Arizona
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 71.6
> 2015 murders: 2
> Poverty rate: 6.8%
> Unemployment rate: 4.2%
Five years ago 84 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 residents in Gilbert. Even then, the city was among the safest, and the crime rate has fallen since then. Just 72 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 Gilbert residents in 2015, the fourth lowest rate of any large U.S. city. According to Arizona’s local CBS channel, Gilbert’s police attribute the drop in crime to its use of data in its recently implemented crime tracking system.
3. Murrieta, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 63.0
> 2015 murders: 0
> Poverty rate: 7.9%
> Unemployment rate: 5.4%
Murrieta residents reported just 63 crimes per 100,000 people in 2015, the third lowest violent crime rate of any city. There were also just 1,553 property crimes per 100,000 residents, far lower than the national figure. While the Murrieta violent crime rate remained unchanged compared to 2014, however, the property crime rate increased substantially. Like many cities in California, the Murrieta police department attributes the spike in property crime to a state law passed in 2014, which reduced prison sentences for certain drug offenders. The 16.6% increase in the number of property crimes in Murrieta is in stark contrast with the 2.6% nationwide decline.
2. Irvine, California
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 55.8
> 2015 murders: 2
> Poverty rate: 12.4%
> Unemployment rate: 3.3%
Nearly two-thirds of adults living in Irvine have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the highest proportions of any city in the nation and a very strong indication of the prosperity that tends to accompany high educational attainment rates. In turn, such prosperity tends to help keep crime levels low. In relatively safe cities, there tend to be more lawful opportunities for residents, which reduces the likelihood of violence. With an unemployment rate of 3.3%, one of the lowest rates, Irvine workers have access to more jobs, for example.
1. Cary, North Carolina
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 50.5
> 2015 murders: 5
> Poverty rate: 6.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.8%
No city is safer than Cary, where just 51 violent incidents were reported last year for every 100,000 city residents — a fraction of the national violent crime rate of 373 per 100,000 people. Also, while violent crime is up across the nation, the number of incidents in Cary dropped by 17.3% last year.
In addition to safe neighborhoods, Cary residents enjoy high incomes, low poverty, and a healthy job market. The typical household earns $91,481 annually versus the national median of $53,482. The city’s poverty rate of 6.7% is less than half the national rate of 15.6%. And, 3.8% of the workforce is unemployed, well below the 2015 national jobless rate of 5.3%.