The Covid-19 pandemic has delivered a lot of economic and physical hardship to the world. Millions of Americans lost their jobs in the first year of the outbreak alone, and businesses of all kinds suffered.
Violent crime tends to increase with economic hardship, so it’s not surprising that the first year of the pandemic saw a noticeable increase in the UShomicide rate. The number of murders around the country jumped 25% in 2020 compared to 2019 – the biggest year-over-year increase since the FBI began releasing annual homicide reports in the 1960s. And though the Bureau hasn’t published data for 2021 yet, the U.S. Council on Criminal Justice notes an average 5% rise in the homicide rate in some 22 major American cities last year.
While murder rates are still lower than they were in the 1990s, the recent sharp rise in these killings has raised concerns among law enforcement officials and local governments. As one example of the response, newly elected New York City mayor Eric Adams has announced he will reconstitute a controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit in the NYPD to help root out illegal guns following a number of recent fatal shootings. (These are the states in which the most guns are sold.)
To determine the cities where the record for homicides was broken in 2021, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed reports from local law enforcement as well as local media outlets, considering only the 80 most populous US cities according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. Some cities were excluded because 2021 homicide data was unavailable. (These are the cities with the highest murder rates in America.)
Many cities that do not rank on this list still reported historic surges in criminal fatalities. Minneapolis, for example, recorded 96 murders in 2021, just one shy of the number reported in 1995, the city’s deadliest year.
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