Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

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40. Utah
> Violent crime rate: 242.8 per 100,000 (10th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.4 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $65,977 (11th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.8% (12th lowest)

Utah is the least violent state in the Western United States. There were 2.4 murders for every 100,000 state residents in 2016, less than half the murder rate nationwide of 5.3 per 100,000. The state’s overall violent crime rate — including homicides — of 243 incidents per 100,000 people is 10th lowest among states and well below the national rate of 386 per 100,000. Violence in Utah is primarily confined to cities. Some 90.5% of reported violent crimes in the state in 2016 were committed in metro areas.

States with low violent crime rates tend to have relatively high earning populations, and Utah is no exception. The typical household in the state earns $65,977 a year, about $8,400 more than the median income nationwide.

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39. Iowa
> Violent crime rate: 290.6 per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.3 per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $56,247 (25th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.2% (3rd lowest)

There were 71 murders and 1,148 robberies reported in Iowa in 2016, the fifth least of any state when adjusted for the population. In total, there were 291 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, far less than the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

Iowa ranks among the least dangerous states in other measures of violence and safety. Firearms are a factor in 47.7% of all suicides in Iowa, less than the 50.6% national figure and among the smallest share of any state. Iowa is also in the minority of states that do not impose the death penalty, and it has one of the lowest incarceration rates nationwide. There are 286 prisoners incarcerated in Iowa state correctional facilities per 100,000 residents, far less than the national incarceration rate of 450 inmates per 100,000 Americans.

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38. New York
> Violent crime rate: 376.2 per 100,000 (24th highest)
> Murder rate: 3.2 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $62,909 (14th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.7% (17th highest)

New York’s violent crime rate of 376 incidents per 100,000 residents is only slightly below the the national rate of 386 per 100,000. However, the state’s homicide rate is relatively low. There were 3.2 murders for every 100,000 state residents in 2016, compared to 5.2 per 100,000 nationwide. Rates of firearm-related deaths, including suicide, are similarly low. There were 4.3 firearm-inflicted fatalities in New York for every 100,000 residents from 2012 to 2016, less than half the national rate of 11 per 100,000 over the same period.

The low firearm fatality rate may be attributable to strict gun laws in the state. New York heavily restricts concealed carry and military-style assault weapons. In New York City specifically, gun restrictions are among the toughest in the nation.

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37. Nebraska
> Violent crime rate: 291.0 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.6 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> Median household income: $56,927 (22nd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.8% (12th lowest)

There were 2.6 murders reported in Nebraska per 100,000 residents in 2016, less than half the national homicide rate of 5.3 murders per 100,000 Americans. Similarly, there were 49.6 robberies per 100,000 residents, also less than half the national rate of 102.8 per 100,000. In total, there were 291 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Nebraska residents in 2016, well below the national rate of 386 per 100,000.

The relatively low prevalence of violent crime in Nebraska is likely one reason behind the state’s low incarceration rate. While nationwide there are 450 inmates incarcerated in state correctional facilities per 100,000 Americans, in Nebraska there are 274 inmates per 100,000 residents.

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36. Washington
> Violent crime rate: 302.2 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.7 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $67,106 (10th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.4% (5th highest)

The incidences of murder, robbery, and aggravated assault are all lower in Washington state than they are across the United States as a, while the incidence of rape is slightly higher. Still, the state’s violent crime rate of 302 incidents per 100,000 people is well below the national violent crime rate of 386 per 100,000. About 88% of all violent crimes and 85% of murders in Washington occurred in metropolitan areas in 2016.

While violence is relatively uncommon in Washington, other types of crime are more common. The state’s 2016 property crime rate of 3,494 incidents per 100,000 people is the second highest in the country. Property crimes include burglary and motor vehicle theft.

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