The U.S. violent crime rate has been falling for years and currently stands at nearly its lowest point in decades. According to the FBI, over 1.2 million violent crimes — which include aggravated assualt, rape, robbery, and murder — were committed in the United States in 2017, or 383 incidents for every 100,000 people. As recently as 1991, there were over 1.9 million violent crimes in the United States, or 758 incidents per 100,000 people.
Crime is a local issue, however, and rates of violence vary considerably across the country. Generally, violence is about twice as common in metropolitan areas and cities than it is in more rural areas. Indeed, in nearly every state, there is at least one city where the violence is far more common than it is nationwide. In some cities, violence is so common that the multi-decade high national violent crime rate of 1991 is preferable in comparison.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates in the nearly 2,000 cities and towns tracked by the FBI to identify the most dangerous city in each state. Only cities with populations of at least 20,000 were considered. Hawaii is the only state where no city tracked by the FBI has a higher crime rate than the state as a whole.
Crime is often more common in poorer areas with limited economic opportunities. The vast majority of cities on this list have higher poverty and unemployment rates than the state as a whole.
While there are some states where no city has a higher violent crime rate than the U.S. as a whole, most do. Some of the cities on this list are located in metro areas where violent crime rates have spiked in recent years. In cities with high rates of violence, other non-violent crimes like burglary and motor vehicle theft also tend to be common. The cities on this list are often also the same cities with the highest property crime rate in the state.
To identify the most dangerous city in each state, 24/7 Wall St. examined the FBI’s 2017 Uniform Crime Report, extracting violent crime data for all U.S. cities with populations of 20,000 or more. We examined each state’s figures for murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, offenses that comprise the violent crime category. We also reviewed FBI figures for burglaries, larceny, motor vehicle thefts, and arson, all classified as property crimes. Annual unemployment rates for each city and state came from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for 2018. Data on poverty rates, median household income, and educational attainment rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for 2013-2017.
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