Special Report

America's Most Violent and Peaceful States

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40. Utah
> Violent crime rate: 238.9 per 100,000 residents (12th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.4 per 100,000 residents (9th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 206 per 100,000 residents (7th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.1% (12th lowest)

Utah is the least violent state in the continentail Western United States. There were 238.9 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state in 2017, well below the violent crime rate of 382.9 per 100,000 nationwide. Utah’s incarceration rate of 206 per 100,000 is also among the lowest in the nation.

In other measures, Utah is lagging behind much of the country, however. Suicide by firearm is a considerable problem in the state. For every 100,0000 people in Utah, there were 11.0 suicides carried out with a firearm over the last five years, more than in all but six states and well above the national rate of 6.6 suicides by firearm per 100,000.

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39. Nebraska
> Violent crime rate: 305.9 per 100,000 residents (20th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.2 per 100,000 residents (7th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 273 per 100,000 residents (15th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.8% (7th lowest)

Nebraska ranks as the 12th most peaceful state and the second most peaceful state in the Midwest, trailing only Minnesota. The state’s violent crime rate of 305.9 per 100,000 is well below the national rate of 382.9 per 100,000. Gun violence specifically is relatively rare. There were 8.9 fatalities by firearm for every 100,000 people in the state over the last five years compared to 10.9 per 100,000 nationwide.

As is the case in other relatively peaceful states, economic conditions in Nebraska are favorable, particularly the state’s job market. Just 2.8% of Nebraska’s labor force was out of a job in 2018, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and well below the 3.9% national unemployment rate.

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38. North Dakota
> Violent crime rate: 281.3 per 100,000 residents (14th lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.3 per 100,000 residents (2nd lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 226 per 100,000 residents (9th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.6% (4th lowest)

Only 13 states have a lower violent crime rate than North Dakota’s 281.3 reported incidents per 100,000 people. The state’s homicide rate is especially low. There were only 10 murders in the state in 2017, or 1.3 murders for every 100,000 residents in 2017 — the second lowest rate after New Hampshire and well below the national homicide rate of 5.3 per 100,000.

There is room for improvement in North Dakota, however. Deaths by firearm are more common in the state than across the country as a whole, largely due to suicides. There were 10.6 suicides carried out with a gun for every 100,000 people in North Dakota over the last five years, well above the national rate of 6.6 per 100,000.

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37. Washington
> Violent crime rate: 304.5 per 100,000 residents (19th lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.1 per 100,000 residents (17th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 262 per 100,000 residents (13th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.5% (9th highest)

Washington’s violent crime rate of 304.5 reported incidents per 100,000 people is well below the national violent crime rate of 382.9 per 100,000. Of the four types of violent crime — aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder — rape is the only one with a higher than average incidence rate in the state.

While violence is relatively uncommon in the state, non-violent crimes are far more common. There were 3,174 property crimes — a broad category that includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft — for every 100,000 people in the state in 2017, more than in all but four other states.

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36. Iowa
> Violent crime rate: 293.4 per 100,000 residents (17th lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.3 per 100,000 residents (19th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 285 per 100,000 residents (16th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.5% (3rd lowest)

Violent crime is far less common in Iowa than it is nationwide. Across the state, there were 293.4 reported incidents for every 100,000 people — compared to 382.9 per 100,000 nationwide. Robbery in particular is far less common in Iowa than it is nationwide. Iowa’s robbery rate of 39.8 incidents per 100,000 people is less than half the comparable national rate of 98.1 per 100,000.

Not all corners of the state are safe, however. In Iowa’s most dangerous city, there were over 1,000 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people.

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