Special Report

25 Most Dangerous Cities in America

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5. Springfield, Missouri
> Violent crime rate in 2019: 1,519 per 100,000 people (2,571 total)
> Total homicides reported in 2019: 11
> 2019 poverty rate: 24.8%
> 2019 annual unemployment rate: 2.8%
> 2019 population: 169,235

Springfield is one of two large cities in Missouri to rank among the top five most dangerous cities nationwide. There were 1,519 violent crimes reported in Springfield in 2019 for every 100,000 people.

While violent crimes like rape, robbery, and aggravated assault are far more common in Springfield than they are nationwide, the city’s murder rate is well below that of nearly every other city on this list and in line with the national average. There were 6 murders in the city for every 100,000 people in 2019, compared to 5 per 100,000 nationwide.

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4. Baltimore, Maryland
> Violent crime rate in 2019: 1,859 per 100,000 people (11,101 total)
> Total homicides reported in 2019: 348
> 2019 poverty rate: 21.8%
> 2019 annual unemployment rate: 5.1%
> 2019 population: 597,239

There were 348 murders committed in Baltimore in 2019, or 58 for every 100,000 people — the second highest homicide rate of any large U.S. city, trailing only St. Louis. For context, there were only 5 murders for every 100,000 people nationwide last year. Murders have continued to surge in the city, and 2020 marks the sixth year in a row with more than 300 homicides in the city.

Violence tends to be more concentrated in lower-income areas with limited economic opportunity. In Baltimore, 21.8% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 5.1% of the labor force is unemployed, compared to the 14.1% national poverty rate and 3.7% national annual unemployment rate.

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3. Memphis, Tennessee
> Violent crime rate in 2019: 1,901 per 100,000 people (12,367 total)
> Total homicides reported in 2019: 190
> 2019 poverty rate: 26.8%
> 2019 annual unemployment rate: 4.4%
> 2019 population: 650,410

Two of the five cities with the highest violent crime rates are located in the South — and Memphis is one of them. There were 12,367 combined cases of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder in the city in 2019 — or 1,901 violent crimes for every 100,000 people.

As is the case in many cities on this list, violence is only getting worse in Memphis. So far in 2020, there has been a record number of murders, surpassing the previous high of 226 — and there are still three months left in the year. In 2019, 194 homicides were reported in Memphis.

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2. St. Louis, Missouri
> Violent crime rate in 2019: 1,927 per 100,000 people (5,792 total)
> Total homicides reported in 2019: 194
> 2019 poverty rate: 24.2%
> 2019 annual unemployment rate: 3.9%
> 2019 population: 300,521

St. Louis, Missouri, is one of only three large cities to report more than 1,900 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2019. The city’s murder rate of 65 homicides for every 100,000 people is about 13 times higher than the national murder rate of 5 per 100,000 — and it does not seem as if it will improve any time soon. In the nine months of 2020, St. Louis reported more homicides than it did in all of 2019, and the year is on track to break the city’s all time high homicide rate record set in 1993, when there were 70 homicides per 100,000 people.

Some local experts link the city’s high homicide rate to poverty. An estimated, 24.2% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line, compared to 14.1% of Americans nationwide.

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1. Detroit, Michigan
> Violent crime rate in 2019: 1,965 per 100,000 people (13,040 total)
> Total homicides reported in 2019: 275
> 2019 poverty rate: 36.4%
> 2019 annual unemployment rate: 8.8%
> 2019 population: 663,502

Detroit ranks as the most dangerous city in the United States, with 13,040 violent crimes reported in 2019 — or 1,965 for every 100,000 people. Aggravated assaults account for the largest share of violent crimes in the city, followed by robberies.

Violence tends to be more concentrated in lower-income areas with limited economic opportunity. In Detroit, 36.4% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 8.8% of the labor force is unemployed — compared to the national 14.1% poverty rate and 3.7% annual jobless rate.