The United States is the 128th safest country in the world according to the Global Peace Index. The US’s safety rank has decreased each year since 2016. A large factor in determining the safety index of countries is their murder rate.
The murder rate varies greatly between cities in the United States. Violent crime rates escalated after World War II and peaked between the 1970s and 1990s.
Crime rates overall are affected by several factors. Factors that influence crime rates include lower arrest probabilities, social influences, and family structures. Crime in metropolitan statistical areas tends to be above the national average. Many attribute the high violent crime rates to gangs and gang violence in urban areas. The United States also has a mass shooting occur, on average, every 200 days. These mass shootings drastically bring up murder rates in the cities that they occur in.
A common misconception is that the cities with larger populations have the highest murder rates. New York City, for example, has a population of 8.39 million people but with 300 murders and a murder rate of 3.4 in 2017, it doesn’t even make it into the top 50 cities.
The twenty cities in the United States with the highest murder rates (murders per 100,000 people) are:
St. Louis, Missouri has the highest murder rate of any US city of 69.4 murders per 100,000 people. In 2017, 205 people were murdered in St. Louis. The high likelihood of violence is attributed to the parts of the city, such as East St. Louis, that experience conditions that increase this likelihood such as unsafe housing, a failing economy, and poor school systems.
The Las Vegas murder rate is 31.4, which includes the 58 people who were tragically killed in the 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival.
Although murder rates in US cities are extremely high compared to other countries, some cities are experiencing their lowest numbers of murders in years. Newark, New Jersey had 72 murders in 2017, down from 94 in 2016. New York City’s 300 murders in 2017 is the lowest number the city has had since the 1950s.