The U.S. murder rate is at its highest level in nearly two and half decades. A total of 21,570 murders were committed nationwide in 2020, up nearly 30% from the previous year — the largest annual increase on record.
The rash of deadly violence came during a tumultuous year in American history. The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures and left millions of Americans out of work. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer rattled confidence in American law enforcement and sparked nationwide protests. Firearm sales soared, resulting in the proliferation of tens of millions of new guns. Here is a look at the states where gun sales are surging.
Some experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in the rising homicide rate. While it may be years before the precise causal factors are identified, the effects are being felt in communities across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicide as a contributing factor in the historic 1.5-year decline in life expectancy in the U.S. last year — trailing only COVID-19 and accidental deaths, like drug overdoses, in significance.
Currently, the national murder rate stands at 6.5 homicides for every 100,000 people. In many U.S. cities, however, murder rates are far higher than the national average. Using data from the FBI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the city with the most murders in each state. Cities are ranked on their murder rate — the number of reported murders for every 100,000 people in 2020. Only cities with populations of more than 25,000 were considered.
It is important to note that in four states — Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Vermont — there is only one city with available data. In each of these cases, which are noted, the city listed ranks as having the highest murder rate by default only. In Hawaii, there are no eligible cities with available crime data.
Though each of the cities on this list ranks as having the highest murder rate in its respective state, homicide rates in these places vary considerably, from as low as 1.7 murders per 100,000 people to as high as 88.1 per 100,000. In the vast majority of the cities on this list, homicide rates exceed the comparable rate across the state as a whole.
Despite the rise in homicide nationwide, murder is by far the least common form of violent crime, accounting for less than 2% of all violent crimes. Still, in most of the cities on this list, the overall violent crime rate exceeds the rate across the state as a whole.