Homicides were up by nearly 30% in the United States in 2020, the largest single-year increase on record. The surge in deadly violence capped a decade in which the national murder rate was already trending upward.
Over the 10-year period from 2011 to 2020, the number of murders reported in the U.S. climbed by 47%. Now, the national murder rate stands at 6.5 homicides for every 100,000 people, the highest it has been since 1997.
In keeping with the national trend, all but a handful of states reported an increase in homicides over the past decade. Using data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where murders are up the most over that period. States are ranked by the percent change in the number of homicides from 2011 to 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available).
Population data and the murder rate – or the number of murders for every 100,000 people for the year in question – are also from the FBI.
Only six states – Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wyoming – had fewer murders in 2020 than in 2011, and for that reason are not included on this list.. Among the 44 remaining states, the number of murders rose anywhere from 3.8% to over 150% in the last decade. (These cities have the highest murder rate in America.)
It is important to note that the states reporting the largest increase in murders do not necessarily have higher than average murder rates – a measure of annual murder for every 100,000 people. In fact, in four of the five states with the largest 10-year increase in homicides have a lower murder rate than the U.S. as a whole. (Here is a look at America’s most dangerous states.)
The historic spike in murders in 2020 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. Firearms sales soared, resulting in the proliferation of tens of millions of new guns. (Here is a look at the 28 guns most used to commit crimes in America.)
Experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in the rising homicide rate.
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