Low Crime, High Murder Rates

The United States has seen a sharp, 14% increase in the murder rate, according to U.S. News. The nation has seen enormous increases in Chicago, San Diego, San Jose, and Austin. However, overall crime rates have fallen over the same period. Violent crime rose by a meager 3.3 percent. According to data collected by the Brennan Center for Justice, the nation's crime rate, overall, remains near historic lows.

The graph above displays the percent-change in murder rate in the largest U.S. cities from 2015-2016. Many cities show small changes in percentages. Many have also experienced decreases in murder rates. Notably, New York City - a city with a murderous stereotype - saw murder rates decline by 4.6% between 2015 to 2016. There does not seem to be any significant correlation between geographical region or population size and change in murder rates. It is important to note that the percentage increases are based on the change of each city’s murder rate, individually. If a city had only one  murder between 2014 and 2015, but had two murders between 2015 and 2016, this data would indicate a 100% increase in that city’s murder rate. As aforementioned, Chicago saw a large spike in murders from an already high level. Much of the nation’s increase in murder rates is attributed to the increases in Chicago.

Explanations for this curious dilemma vary. Attempts have been made to expound Chicago’s rising trend, stating that  “shrinking ranks of police officers, fewer anti-violence programs, poverty and gang violence” are among the numerous catalysts. It is unknown whether this trend will continue; however, changes to gun control legislation by the new administration will likely have a major impact.  


Anna Graff

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