Crime rates in the US have been trending downward for decades, and the latest data is no different. In 2020, the country's overall crime rate was 6.2% lower than in 2019. However, violent crime increased by 4.7% in 2020. And while crime has declined nationally over time, the reality at the state level can be different.
How does the current crime rate compare to what it used to be?
Crime was 60% lower in 2020 than in 1980. The crime rate began to decline steadily in the early 1990s and fell every year between 2001 and 2020.
Both property and violent crime reflect this long-term trend of decreasing crime. Property crime has decreased by 63% and violent crime by 33% since 1980.
The property crimes include burglary, theft of motor vehicles and arson, with theft accounting for about 80% of property crimes. Violent crime includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, with serious assault accounting for 66% of violent crime.
In 2020, the lower overall crime rate was due to fewer property crimes, down 8.1% from 2019. Violent crime, on the other hand, was 4.7% higher over the same period. This increase wasmainly because ofheavier assaults, but the murder rate also increased by about 25%.
Which states have the lowest and highest crime rates?
The Northeastis the region with the lowest crime rates. Property crime rates in the Northeast were 34% lower than the rest of the country and violent crime rates were 26% lower than other states.
Four of the five states with the lowest property crime rates in 2020 were in the Northeast, as were all five of the lowest states by violent crime rates. New Hampshire and New Jersey ranked in the bottom five states for both property and violent crimes.
States in the South and West had the highest crime rates in 2020. Washington, DC, which lies to the south, and New Mexico, which lies to the west, were in the top 5 states for both property and violent crime.
The Census Bureau defines more specific areas within each region called districts. The West South Central District -- part of the Southern Region and made up of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas -- had the highest crime rates of any county. Both property crime and violent crime in these states were 22% higher than the national average.
Washington, DC had the highest property crime rate in 2020 at 3,493 crimes per 100,000 residents. This was 21% higher than Louisiana, the state with the second highest rate of property crime. Massachusetts had the lowest property crime rate at 1,053 felonies per 100,000 residents.
Washington, DC also had the highest violent crime rate, at 1,000 crimes per 100,000 residents. That was 19% more than Alaska, the state with the second highest violent crime rate. Maine had the lowest violent crime rate at 109 per 100,000 residents.
Although Washington, DC had higher crime rates than any state, compare its crime rate to other major statesCities is probably a more appropriate comparison. In2019, seven citieshad a higher violent crime rate than Washington, DC and eighthad a higher property crime rate. In major cities, the number of violent crimes per 100,000 people ranged from 271 in Honolulu to 1,965 in Detroit. Property crimes per 100,000 people ranged from 1,460 in New York City to 6,128 in Memphis.
In which states have crime rates changed the most?
Since 1991, when the nationwide decline in crime rates began, New Jersey and Florida have seen the largest long-term declines in crime, while North Dakota has seen the smallest decline in property crime and the largest increase in violent crime.
All states' property crime rates in 2020 were lower than in 1991. Property crime rates fell by more than 75% in Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey. North Dakota's property crime rate saw the smallest decrease at 22%.
From 2019 to 2020, property crime rates declined in 39 states and Washington, DC. Georgia's property crime rate fell the most, down 28%, while Pennsylvania saw its largest increase in property crime, down 17%.
Violent crime has declined in 39 states and Washington, DC since 1991. It fell by more than 60% in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Connecticut. Meanwhile, violent crime rates in North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota have more than doubled. These three states were all in the bottom six states by violent crime rate in 1991. The rise in violent crime rates in Montana and South Dakota pushed them into the top 12 states by violent crime rate as of 2020. North Dakota's violent crime rate in 2020 was more than five times its 1991 level, and its rank by violent crime rose from last in 1991 to 31st in 2020.
Between 2019 and 2020, violent crime increased in 33 states. It rose more than 20% in Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Georgia. Vermont, Maryland and Alabama saw violent crime decrease by more than 10%.
What crime data does the FBI release?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the primary government source of data on crime in the United States. Since 1929, it has been collecting crime data from local law enforcement agencies through the Summary Reporting System (SRS). This article uses data from the SRS because the data includes state and national crime estimates calculated taking into account the fact that not all local law enforcement agencies report information to the FBI.
The SRS program wasleakin 2021 in favor of a more detailed system called the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The latest available data from the SRS is from 2020, while the NIBRS contains data up to 2021.
Unlike the SRS, the NIBRS collects data on individual incidents rather than aggregate summaries of crime. This allows the data to capture more specific information about crime. However, NIBRS does not currently provide crime estimates that account for law enforcement non-response. Due to the number of law enforcement agencies that are not yet reporting data through the NIBRS, the data is not representative of larger areas such as states or the country.
|Location||Property Crime Rate (2020)||Violent Crime Rate (2020)|
|District of Columbia||3.493,0||999,8|
Download Crime Data by State, 1979-2020
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Summary Reporting System (SRS)
10. September 2021
See the FBI for complete definitions of each type of property crimeCrime in the United States pagefor any property offense under Browse by Offense
See the FBI for complete definitions of each type of violent crimeCrime in the United States pagefor each violent crime under "Browse by Offense"
IfAre definedby the Census Bureau
With a population of at least 500,000 people
Detroit, Memphis, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Nashville und Houston
Memphis, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, San Antonio, Houston, Baltimore und Detroit
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