Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

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35. Oregon
> Violent crime rate: 264.6 per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.8 per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> Median household income: $57,532 (21st highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.5% (24th highest)

There were 113 murders, 1,721 rapes, 2,278 robberies, and 6,718 aggravated assaults reported in Oregon in 2016. Adjusted for the population, there were a total of 265 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, less than the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 residents. The lower incidence of violent crime is likely one factor contributing to the state’s low incarceration rate. While nationwide there are 450 inmates incarcerated in state correctional facilities per 100,000 Americans, in Oregon there are 367 inmates per 100,000 residents.

While states with less violent crime tend to be wealthier with a better educated population, Oregon’s median household income and college attainment rate are roughly in line with the nation as a whole. The typical household in the state earns $57,532 a year, and some 32.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to $57,617 and 31.3% nationwide.

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34. Idaho
> Violent crime rate: 230.3 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.9 per 100,000 (15th lowest)
> Median household income: $51,807 (15th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.5% (6th lowest)

Only five states have a lower violent crime rate than Idaho. There were 230 violent crimes in the state for every 100,000 residents in 2016 compared to 386 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans nationwide. Idaho had the second lowest robbery rate in 2016 with just 12.7 incidents per 100,000. As is the case nationwide, aggravated assaults are the most common form of violence in Idaho.

Idaho has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, and likely due in part to easy access, suicide by firearm is a problem in the state. There were 12 suicides involving firearms for every 100,000 Idaho residents from 2012 through 2016, the fourth highest rate of any state.Other firearm-related violence is relatively uncommon in Idaho, however, as there were 1.2 murders committed with a gun for every 100,000 residents from 2012 to 2016, less than half the comparable national rate.

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33. Wyoming
> Violent crime rate: 244.2 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.4 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Median household income: $59,882 (19th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.8% (14th highest)

There were 20 murders, 205 rapes, 59 robberies, and 1,146 aggravated assaults reported in Wyoming in 2016. In total, there were 244 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, far less than the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

While Wyoming is less violent than the country as a whole, gun violence is more common in the state than it is nationwide. Gun ownership is relatively unrestricted in Wyoming. Easily accessible, guns a common factor in suicides across the state. Guns are used in 62.6% of all suicides in Wyoming, far more than the national share of 50.6%.

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32. Wisconsin
> Violent crime rate: 305.9 per 100,000 (20th lowest)
> Murder rate: 4.0 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> Median household income: $56,811 (24th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.6% (9th lowest)

Rates of the four sub-categories of violent crime — aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and homicide — are each lower in Wisconsin than they are nationwide. Overall, there were 306 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state in 2016, well below the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 people. Wisconsin also incarcerates a smaller share of its population than is typical nationwide, with 383 people sentenced to state prisons for every 100,000 residents.Nationwide, 450 people are in state prison per 100,000 Americans.

States with lower than typical violent crime and incarceration rates also tend to have relatively strong economies, and Wisconsin is no exception. Just 2.6% of the state’s labor force was unemployed as of May 2018, well below the 3.8% U.S. unemployment rate.

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31. Virginia
> Violent crime rate: 217.6 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Murder rate: 5.8 per 100,000 (20th highest)
> Median household income: $68,114 (8th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.9% (14th lowest)

There were just 217.6 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Virginia in 2016, the fourth lowest violent crime rate of any state and far below the national rate of 386.3 incidents per 100,000 Americans. While violent crime — which consists of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — is less common in Virginia than it is nationwide, the state has a relatively high homicide rate. There were 484 murders in Virginia in 2016, or 5.8 per 100,000 people, more than the national homicide rate of 5.3 murders per 100,000 Americans.

Virginia also ranks worse than a majority of states in gun violence. Some 56.2% of all suicides in the state were carried out with a firearm, compared to the 50.6% national average.

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