Special Report

States Where The Murder Rate is Soaring

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Murder in the United States underwent a surprising surge in 2020. According to the FBI, there were 21,570 murders nationwide that year, a 29% increase from 2019. This is the largest single-year increase ever reported in the United States.

Though the precise reasons for the surge have yet to be determined, experts speculate that unrest following the murder of George Floyd, along with social and economic upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, likely played a role. Gun sales also surged in 2020, and firearms were used in 77% of murder cases, up from 73% in 2019. Here is a look at the states where gun sales are surging

Whatever the explanation, murder is now at its highest level in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. Nearly every state followed the national trend and reported an increase in deadly violence in 2020. 

Using data from the FBI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the murder rate is soaring. States are ranked by the year-over-year change in the number of murders per 100,000 people. Depending on the state, the changes range from a decline of 2.7 murders per 100,000 people to a surge of 4.1 per 100,000. For context, the U.S. murder rate climbed by 1.5 incidents per 100,000 in 2020. 

Murder – along with rаpe, robbery, and aggravated assault – is one component of the overall violent crime category. Even though murder accounts for a small percentage of all violent crimes, most states also reported an increase in violent crime overall in 2020. Here is a look at the states where crime is soaring

A disproportionate share of states that reported the largest increases in homicide are in the South, and nine of the 10 states with the largest increases have a higher overall homicide rate than the national rate of 6.5 murders per 100,000 people.

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

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50. Alaska
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: -2.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 49 (10th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 6.7 (21st highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -27.2 (6th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 837.8 (the highest)
> Population: 731,545

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49. New Hampshire
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: -1.5
> Homicides reported in 2020: 12 (the lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 0.9 (the lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -11.8 (9th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 146.4 (2nd lowest)
> Population: 1,359,711

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

48. New Mexico
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: -1.0
> Homicides reported in 2020: 164 (21st lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.8 (13th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -45.8 (3rd lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 778.3 (2nd highest)
> Population: 2,096,829

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47. Maine
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: 0.0
> Homicides reported in 2020: 22 (4th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 1.6 (2nd lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -7.5 (13th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 108.6 (the lowest)
> Population: 1,344,212

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46. Massachusetts
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 160 (20th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 2.3 (5th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -19.9 (7th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 308.8 (19th lowest)
> Population: 6,892,503

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45. Maryland
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 553 (14th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 9.1 (9th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -54.5 (the lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 399.9 (23rd highest)
> Population: 6,045,680

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44. Kansas
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.2
> Homicides reported in 2020: 100 (14th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.4 (12th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +19.5 (24th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 425.0 (19th highest)
> Population: 2,913,314

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43. Oregon
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.2
> Homicides reported in 2020: 125 (18th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 2.9 (7th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -1.8 (15th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 291.9 (15th lowest)
> Population: 4,217,737

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42. Hawaii
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.3
> Homicides reported in 2020: 41 (8th lowest — tied)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 2.9 (6th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -10.4 (11th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 254.2 (10th lowest)
> Population: 1,415,872

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41. Vermont
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.5
> Homicides reported in 2020: 14 (2nd lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 2.2 (4th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -33.8 (5th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 173.4 (3rd lowest)
> Population: 623,989

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40. Oklahoma
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.5
> Homicides reported in 2020: 296 (25th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.4 (16th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +22.3 (22nd highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 458.6 (13th highest)
> Population: 3,956,971

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39. Rhode Island
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.6
> Homicides reported in 2020: 32 (5th lowest — tied)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.0 (8th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +8.1 (20th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 230.8 (7th lowest)
> Population: 1,059,361

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38. Mississippi
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.6
> Homicides reported in 2020: 315 (23rd highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 10.6 (3rd highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +30.0 (16th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 291.2 (14th lowest)
> Population: 2,976,149

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37. Idaho
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 41 (8th lowest — tied)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 2.2 (3rd lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +10.0 (22nd lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 242.6 (9th lowest)
> Population: 1,787,065

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36. Florida
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 1,290 (3rd highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 5.9 (25th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +5.4 (19th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 383.6 (25th highest)
> Population: 21,477,737

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35. Utah
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 102 (15th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.1 (10th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +23.8 (21st highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 260.7 (12th lowest)
> Population: 3,205,958

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34. New Jersey
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 329 (20th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.7 (15th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -11.4 (10th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 195.4 (5th lowest)
> Population: 8,882,190

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

33. Wyoming
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.9
> Homicides reported in 2020: 18 (3rd lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.1 (9th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +19.3 (25th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 234.2 (8th lowest)
> Population: 578,759

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32. Virginia
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.9
> Homicides reported in 2020: 524 (16th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 6.1 (24th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -0.7 (16th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 208.7 (6th lowest)
> Population: 8,535,519

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31. North Dakota
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.9
> Homicides reported in 2020: 32 (5th lowest — tied)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 4.2 (19th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +27.6 (18th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 329.0 (21st lowest)
> Population: 762,062

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30. Connecticut
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +0.9
> Homicides reported in 2020: 140 (19th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.9 (17th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -3.0 (14th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 181.6 (4th lowest)
> Population: 3,565,287

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29. West Virginia
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.0
> Homicides reported in 2020: 117 (17th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 6.6 (23rd highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +37.0 (15th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 355.9 (23rd lowest)
> Population: 1,792,147

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28. Nevada
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 180 (22nd lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 5.7 (25th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -35.8 (4th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 460.3 (12th highest)
> Population: 3,080,156

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27. Colorado
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 294 (24th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 5.1 (22nd lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +38.4 (12th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 423.1 (20th highest)
> Population: 5,758,736

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26. Minnesota
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 190 (23rd lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.4 (11th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +40.0 (10th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 277.5 (13th lowest)
> Population: 5,639,632

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25. Washington
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.2
> Homicides reported in 2020: 301 (25th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.9 (16th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -9.6 (12th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 293.7 (16th lowest)
> Population: 7,614,893

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24. Nebraska
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.2
> Homicides reported in 2020: 69 (12th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.6 (14th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +29.5 (17th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 334.1 (22nd lowest)
> Population: 1,934,408

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23. New York
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.3
> Homicides reported in 2020: 808 (9th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 4.2 (18th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +2.8 (18th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 363.8 (25th lowest)
> Population: 19,453,561

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22. Iowa
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.3
> Homicides reported in 2020: 111 (16th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 3.5 (13th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +15.9 (25th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 303.5 (17th lowest)
> Population: 3,155,070

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21. California
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.3
> Homicides reported in 2020: 2,203 (the highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 5.6 (24th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: 0.0 (17th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 442.0 (16th highest)
> Population: 39,512,223

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20. Arizona
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.5
> Homicides reported in 2020: 513 (17th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 6.9 (20th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +37.7 (14th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 484.8 (9th highest)
> Population: 7,278,717

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19. Alabama
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.6
> Homicides reported in 2020: 471 (19th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 9.6 (7th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -51.1 (2nd lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 453.6 (14th highest)
> Population: 4,903,185

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18. Texas
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.6
> Homicides reported in 2020: 1,931 (2nd highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 6.6 (22nd highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +24.7 (20th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 446.5 (15th highest)
> Population: 28,995,881

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

17. South Carolina
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 549 (15th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 10.5 (5th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +20.6 (23rd highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 530.7 (7th highest)
> Population: 5,148,714

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16. Michigan
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.8
> Homicides reported in 2020: 754 (10th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.6 (14th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +39.4 (11th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 478.0 (10th highest)
> Population: 9,986,857

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

15. North Carolina
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.8
> Homicides reported in 2020: 852 (7th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 8.0 (11th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +40.6 (9th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 419.3 (21st highest)
> Population: 10,488,084

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14. Indiana
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +1.9
> Homicides reported in 2020: 505 (18th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.5 (15th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: -13.8 (8th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 357.7 (24th lowest)
> Population: 6,732,219

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13. Montana
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.0
> Homicides reported in 2020: 54 (11th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 5.0 (21st lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +51.9 (7th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 469.8 (11th highest)
> Population: 1,068,778

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12. Ohio
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.0
> Homicides reported in 2020: 820 (8th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.0 (19th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +12.8 (24th lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 308.8 (18th lowest)
> Population: 11,689,100

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11. Wisconsin
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.0
> Homicides reported in 2020: 308 (24th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 5.3 (23rd lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +26.3 (19th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 323.4 (20th lowest)
> Population: 5,822,434

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10. Tennessee
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 663 (13th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 9.6 (6th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +73.8 (6th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 672.7 (3rd highest)
> Population: 6,829,174

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9. Kentucky
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 323 (21st highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.2 (18th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +38.4 (13th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 259.1 (11th lowest)
> Population: 4,467,673

Source: Davel5957 / iStock via Getty Images

8. Missouri
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.4
> Homicides reported in 2020: 723 (12th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 11.8 (2nd highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +43.1 (8th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 542.7 (6th highest)
> Population: 6,137,428

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7. Illinois
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.4
> Homicides reported in 2020: 1,151 (4th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 9.1 (8th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +10.7 (23rd lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 425.9 (18th highest)
> Population: 12,671,821

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6. Delaware
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.6
> Homicides reported in 2020: 73 (13th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.4 (17th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +9.2 (21st lowest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 431.9 (17th highest)
> Population: 973,764

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5. Pennsylvania
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.6
> Homicides reported in 2020: 1,009 (5th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 7.9 (12th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +83.6 (3rd highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 389.5 (24th highest)
> Population: 12,801,989

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4. South Dakota
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 40 (7th lowest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 4.5 (20th lowest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +104.3 (the highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 501.4 (8th highest)
> Population: 884,659

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3. Arkansas
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +2.7
> Homicides reported in 2020: 321 (22nd highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 10.6 (4th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +91.1 (2nd highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 671.9 (4th highest)
> Population: 3,017,804

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

2. Georgia
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +3.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 943 (6th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 8.8 (10th highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +73.9 (5th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 400.1 (22nd highest)
> Population: 10,617,423

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1. Louisiana
> 1-yr. change in homicides per 100K people: +4.1
> Homicides reported in 2020: 734 (11th highest)
> Homicides per 100K people in 2020: 15.8 (the highest)
> 1-yr. change in all violent crime per 100K people: +79.7 (4th highest)
> Violent crimes per 100K people in 2020: 639.4 (5th highest)
> Population: 4,648,794

Methodology

To determine the states where the murder rate is soaring, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the change in the murder rate per 100,000 people from the FBI’s 2019 and 2020 Uniform Crime Reports.

Limited data was available in the 2020 UCR for areas in Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, though these states were not excluded from analysis. Because some state and local agencies changed reporting practices between 2019 and 2020, the figures are not comparable, and these areas were excluded.

Population figures are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. However, these estimates were not used to calculate crime rates. Crime rates per 100,000 people were calculated using population figures provided by the FBI in the 2020 and 2019 UCR.

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