According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUS) database, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 600,000 persons of all ages go missing every year, and approximately 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered every year.
The vast majority of missing persons cases are resolved relatively quickly. For example, in 2012, there were 661,000 missing persons cases reported; more than 659,000 of them were resolved within a year. Additionally, researchers say that the number of missing person cases has declined over the past decade as better communication has made it easier to keep in touch with and track persons. Still, more than 17,000 missing person cases and 13,000 unidentified body cases remain open in the United States.
In absolute terms, California has the largest number of missing persons at 2,133. But California’s rate of missing persons is fairly average, at 5.4 missing persons per 100,000 people. The highest rate of missing persons by far is in sparsely populated Alaska, with 41.8 missing people per 100,000 of the population—five times California’s rate and three-and-a-half times the rate of second-ranked Arizona (13.0 missing persons per 100,000). The state with the lowest rate of missing persons is Massachusetts, at 1.8 missing persons per 100,000, while tiny Rhode Island has the smallest number of missing persons in absolute terms, at 20.