Special Report

This Is America's Most Dangerous City

What does crime look like in America, based on FBI statistics for 2020? The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people in the United States rose for the first time since 2016. The homicide rate rose at a faster pace in 2020 than at any time since 1905. There were 398.5 violent crime offenses per 100,000 people across the United States last year, up from 380.8 per 100,000 people in 2019.

Using data from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report (UCR), 24/7 Wall St. identified the most dangerous metro area in the United States — Memphis.

More than 18,000 violent crimes were reported in the metro area in 2020, or 1,359 for every 100,000 people — 21.3% higher than in 2019 and three times the U.S. violent crime rate. The number of homicides committed in Memphis climbed by 38%, from 237 in 2019 to 327 in 2020. At 24.2 per 100,000 people, the homicide rate in Memphis is the second-highest of any U.S. metro area.

Deadly violence continues to increase in Memphis. The city has reported more homicides so far in 2021 than it had over the comparable period the previous year. City leaders have plans to curtail criminal violence in the city but reportedly need hundreds of additional police officers to execute those plans. The department is reportedly offering a $15,000 signing bonus in order to aid in the recruitment effort.

According to the FBI’s comparison of reported crime characteristics, young adults aged 20 to 29 were more likely to be involved in violent crimes than any other age group; the most frequent location for violent crimes was at home; and, guns were used to commit a very high number of these crimes. (This is the state that sells the most guns.)

In keeping with the national trend, most large metro areas reported a rise in criminal violence in 2020. As was also the case nationwide, the increase in many of these metro areas was led by a surge in homicide cases.

Low-income communities in the United States are disproportionately burdened by crime. One study found that individuals with family incomes of less than $15,000 annually are three times more likely to be victimized by crime than those with family incomes of $75,000 or more.

Click here to see America’s most dangerous city.

Crime is a local phenomenon influenced by a wide range of factors at the national, state, community and household level. Population density, economic conditions, employment rates, legal policies, law enforcement practices, community attitudes toward crime and policing, and other factors can all influence crime activity and reporting. As a result, reported crime in the United States can vary considerably from place to place.

Violent crime includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rаpe, robbery and aggravated assault. The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people was calculated using population data from the FBI. Limited data were available in the 2020 UCR for areas in Alabama, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania, though these places were not excluded from the analysis.

Additional information on the number of murders and the population within the jurisdictions reporting figures to the FBI are also from the 2020 FBI UCR. Poverty rates are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

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