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 increase in violent crime was not uniform nationwide, however, and many towns across the country bore the brunt of the surge in criminal violence.
Using data from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 towns where crime is soaring. Towns are ranked by the year-over-year change in violent crimes reported for every 100,000 residents. We considered all places covered by the U.S. Census Bureau with populations between 2,500 and 25,000.
Rising rates of violence in American towns 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. Here is a look at the states buying the most guns.
Every town on this list has a higher violent crime rate than the U.S. as a whole, and most also had high rates of violence before the most recent annual surge. The majority of the towns on this list are in the South, including nine in Arkansas alone. Towns with the largest increases in violence are also more likely to have higher than average levels of underlying socioeconomic problems, such as unemployment and 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 towns where crime is soaring
Click here to read our detailed methodology
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