Cities across the United States are reporting a spike in gun violence and homicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first six months of 2020, there was a nearly 15% increase in murders nationwide, and across a sample of 59 cities tracked by the FBI, the number of murders was up 28% from January through July compared to the same period in 2019.
The increase reflects a sudden reversal of a long-term trend, as violent crime has fallen in the U.S. for four consecutive years. In 2019, there were 367 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the United States, a low not seen since 2014 and a far cry from the highs of the early 1990s that topped 750 violent crimes per 100,000 people annually.
While a complete picture of the incidence of violence in the United States in 2020 remains to be seen, there are dozens of cities across the country that were already plagued by violence before this turbulent year.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates in nearly 300 U.S. cities tracked by the FBI that are home to at least 100,000 people to determine the 50 most dangerous cities in America. Violent crime rates are population-adjusted figures calculated using the number of rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, and homicides committed in 2019 per 100,000 people.
Violent crime is a difficult social phenomenon to explain. Certain factors, however, may affect the incidence of violence, especially employment. Higher employment rates among at-risk groups have been shown to reduce the likelihood of violent crime — and some experts are pointing to the ongoing unemployment crisis to help explain the current surge in violence nationwide. Indeed, many of the cities on this list were struggling with widespread joblessness even before the COVID-19 recession. Here is a look at the cities with the worst COVID-19 unemployment crisis right now.
The relationship between income and crime is complicated, but cities with high poverty also often have higher crime rates. In the vast majority of cities on this list, the poverty rate exceeds the comparable 14.1% national rate. Here is a list of America’s poorest cities.