While violent crime declined nationwide in 2017, the crime rate rose in many of the most dangerous states. In New Mexico, the second most dangerous state, the violent crime rate rose 12.0% in 2017 — the largest increase of any state other than Vermont. The spike was largely driven by an increase in crime in Albuquerque, the largest city in the state, as well as substantial increases in midsize cities such as Farmington, Clovis, and Hobbs.
Violent crime is often more prevalent in poor, densely populated urban areas, where economic opportunities for at-risk youths and adults are limited. Violent crime can have a negative impact on economic growth by reducing the supply of labor and capital in a community, and is correlated with socioeconomic factors such as unemployment and poverty.
In 11 of the 15 states with the lowest violent crime rates, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is above the 32.0% national college attainment rate. Similarly, the unemployment rate in 11 of the 15 least dangerous states is below the 3.7% national figure. In 14 of the 15 states with the lowest violent crime rates, the share of the population living below the poverty line is smaller than the 13.4% national poverty rate.
To determine the most dangerous states in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of violent crimes in 2017 per 100,000 residents for all 50 states with data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Data on murder also came from the FBI. Incarceration rates are for 2016 and represent the number of people in state and federal correctional facilities per 100,000 state residents age 18 and older and are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Data on poverty came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. Unemployment rates came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are seasonally adjusted for September 2018. Only cities with populations of at least 10,000 were considered for the most dangerous city in every state.