Special Report

States Where Crime Is Soaring

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. violent crime rate rose to its highest level in a decade. The increase was driven by a rise in aggravated assault and, most notably, a historic 29% surge in homicides that made 2020 the deadliest year in the United States since the mid-1990s.

Violent crime is a broad category of offenses that includes rаpe, robbery, aggravated assault, and murder. All told, more than 1.3 million violent crimes were reported in the U.S. – or 399 for every 100,000 people – in 2020, an increase of 18 incidents per 100,000 people from the previous year. 

The violent crime trend was not uniform across the country, however. In several states, the violent crime rate fell between 2019 and 2020. In others, violence spiked much more than the national average. 

Using data from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where crime is soaring. States are ranked by the year-over-year change in violent crimes reported for every 100,000 residents, from the largest decline, to the largest increase. 

Surges in violence in much of the United States came during a tumultuous year. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and left millions of Americans out of work. Footage of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer rattled confidence in American law enforcement and sparked nationwide protests. Firearms sales soared, and tens of millions of new guns proliferated across communities nationwide. While experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role, it may be years before the precise causal factors are identified. Here is a look at the states buying the most guns

Encouragingly, Alaska and New Mexico, the two states with the highest violent crime rates, reported a decline in criminal violence in 2020. Still, many of the states that reported the largest increases in violence had higher than average violent crime rates to begin with. Half of the 10 states that reported the largest increase in criminal violence are located in the South. States with the largest increases in violence are also more likely to have higher levels of underlying socioeconomic problems, such as poverty. Here is a look at the city where the most people live below the poverty line in every state.

Click here to see the states where crime is soaring
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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