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Have you ever wondered which are the highest crime cities in the US? Or what are the most dangerous states in the US?

Murder rate by state is one of the numbers that can answer those questions. It represents the number of murders per 100,000 people.

However, most of the time, we have to consider other factors when determining how dangerous or safe a state or the city is.

While one might think that the most dangerous city is the one with the highest number of murders, that is not always the case.

The thing is:

Sometimes, violent crime rates do not follow murder rate trends, and a very violent state might not be the most murderous one.

At The High Court, we decided to take a look at these murder rates per capita by state in order to make the situation clearer.

Intriguing Murder Statistics (Editor’s Picks)

  • There were 16,214 homicides in the US in 2018.
  • The US murder and homicide rate was reported to be 5.0 in 2018.
  • The murder capital of the US is East St. Louis.
  • Alaska is considered to be the most violent state in the US.
  • The safest states in the United States are Vermont and Maine.
  • Most major cities recorded a significant rise in homicides in 2020.
  • The highest firearm mortality rates are in Mississippi, 22.9 per 100,000.

The Murder Rate in the United States

How many murders were there in the USA in 2018? 

1. The number of murders in the United States in 2018 was 16,214.

(Source: Statista)

Looking at the United States homicide statistics for 2018, there were 

16,214 reported cases of murder or non-negligent manslaughter. This figure represents a significant decrease from 1991, which saw 24,700 murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases.

The difference between the two is sometimes confusing, but the distinguishing factor is the forethought or its absence. While the definition’s wording is different from state to state, the basic differentiation is the same. 

Here’s the deal:

Murder involves some planning and/or a state of mind that implies forethought, while manslaughter is considered a crime of the moment, without the previous intent to kill. 

You might be wondering:

What is the homicide rate in the United States? 

2. The US murder and homicide rate was 5.0 in 2018.

(Source: Macro Trends, Statista)

 US murder rate by year:

The United States homicide rate for 2017 was 5.30, which marked a 1.85% decline from 2016.

The 2016 figure was 5.40, 8% higher than in 2015. In turn, the murder and the homicide rate for 2015 was 5.00, an 11.11% rise from 2014, while the murder and the homicide rate for 2014 was 4.50, the same as in 2013.

3. East St. Louis is the deadliest city in the US.

(Source: Neighborhood Scout)

What city has the highest murders rate? 

The highest city murder rate can be found in East St. Louis. This city in Illinois has nearly 1 murder per 1000 people, which makes its murder rate a whopping 17.5 times higher than the national average, and 4 times higher than the murder rate of Chicago.

What state has the highest murders rate?

4. With 14.4 per 100,000, Louisiana has the highest murder rate.

(Source: World Population Review)

Observing the murder rate by state, the ten states with the highest murder rates are:

Louisiana with 14.4 per 100,000, followed by Alabama with 12.9, Mississippi with 12.7, Missouri with 11.3, Alaska with 10.6, Maryland with 10.2, Arkansas with 9.8, South Carolina with 9.3, Illinois with 9, and Tennessee with 8.8.

5. Looking at the highest murders in the US by state in 2018, the state with the highest number of murders was California with 1,739.

(Source: FBI, USA Today)

Texas recorded a total of 1,322 murders, making it the second-highest-ranking murder rate USA state by numbers.

The third-highest state by the number of murders is Florida. with 1107 murders in 2018, with the most dangerous city deemed to be Florida City

The state with the fourth-highest number of murders was Illinois, where 884 people were murdered in the course of the year.

Looking at homicides by state, Pennsylvania takes fifth place, with 784 murders in 2018.

6. Vermont has the lowest number of murders in the US, only 10 in 2018.

(Source: USA Today)

When it comes to murders by state, people are the least likely to get killed in Vermont.

Next, there is South Dakota, with 12 murdered people in 2018.

In third place, with 13 recorded murders, is the state of Wyoming.

Rhode Island comes fifth, with a murder death toll of 16, followed by North Dakota with 18.

7. Rhode Island has the lowest firearm mortality rates, only 3.3 per 100,000.

(Source: CDC)

The lower end of the list of states by murder rate from firearms looks like this.

CDC gun death stats show the states with the lowest firearm mortality rates are:

  • Rhode Island 3.3
  • Massachusetts 3.5
  • Hawaii 4
  • New York 4.1
  • New Jersey 4.8
  • Connecticut 4.9
  • California 7.5
  • Minnesota 7.8
  • Iowa 8.7
  • Nebraska 9

8. The highest firearm mortality rates can be found in Mississippi, 22.9 per 100,000.

(Source: CDC)

Which state has the highest gun homicide rate? 

The state with the highest firearm mortality is Mississippi, CDC homicide statistics show. 

The following highest-ranking states are:

  • Alabama 21.8
  • Wyoming 21.5
  • Missouri 21.5
  • Louisiana with 21.4 
  • Alaska 21 (the highest gun homicide rate by state) 
  • New Mexico 20.7
  • Arkansas 18.9
  • West Virginia 18.2
  • Nevada 17.9

9. Murder rates increased by 23% in June of 2020, while the violent crime rate dropped. 

(Source: Forbes)

2020 witnessed a rise in murders in major US cities according to the analyst Jeff Asher.

Even if the overall crime is down by over 7%, including violent crimes, which are down by 2.2%, murder in American cities is recorded a massive 23% increase in June alone.

What is the most dangerous city in the United States?

10. The most dangerous city in the United States is Detroit, Michigan.

(Source: Escape Here)

With 2,007 violent crimes and 4,304 property crimes, Detroit is considered to be the most dangerous place in the US. The poverty rate of 37.9% and the unemployment rate of 9% are the main causes of high crime rates.

Memphis, Tennessee, is in the second most dangerous city, with 1,943 violent and  6,405 property crimes.

What’s more:

The city recorded 186 homicides in 2018, most of which involved firearms.

With 1,911 violent crimes and 6,313 property crimes, Birmingham, Alabama, is the third most dangerous city, as aggravated assaults made up for 70% of incidents in 2018

11. Chicago saw its most violent month in murders in 28 years in July 2020.

(Source: Forbes)

A total of 105 murders were recorded in Chicago in July 2020, while the number was only 44 at the same time in 2019

The first half of 2020 proved to be more violent than the first half of 2019, as there were 433 murders, compared to 284.

Philadelphia witnessed a rise in murder count from 187 to 247, and New York’s figures went up from 176 to 227 between January and June 2020.

Las Vegas recorded a slight increase from 45 to 50, as did Dallas, from 118 to 123 murder incidents in the first half of 2020.

12. The first month of the 2020 lockdown saw murder rates rise by 233% in Nashville. 

(Source: Insider)

The biggest percentage rise in homicides was recorded in Nashville, where the number rose from 4 to 14 homicides during the observed 30 days.

Now:

Looking at homicide by city, more people died in Kansas City from murder than from COVID-19 during the first month of lockdown, as the murder rate rose by an alarming 23%.

Cincinnati’s rate went up by 115%, Milwaukee’s by 103%, and Louisville’s by 63%.

Houston saw a 68% increase from the 2019 figure between the end of March and the beginning of May 2020, while the number in May shot up by over 150%.

13. Kern County had 84 homicides in 2019, more than any other county in the US. 

(Source: KGET)

Kern County in California had the highest homicide rate in the country, with a rate of 9.2 per 100,000 people and a total of 84 homicides in 2019. Still, that number is smaller than the year before, when it stood at 96. This marks the third year this county is at the top. 

Check this out:

Kern County had a rate of 11.1 homicides per 100,000 total population in 2018, and a rate of 9.9 in the two years before that.

The second-highest murder rate by county is recorded in San Bernardino County, California (6.7).

14. Alaska is the leader among the most violent states.

(Source: USA Today)

What is the most dangerous state in the US in 2019? 

The states with the highest murder rates usually have high poverty rates and high unemployment.

The national rate for violent crimes is 380.6 per 100,000, and the most dangerous state, Alaska has 885

Aggravated assault is the most common thing that might happen. This explains why Alaska is not too far up the murder list of homicides statistics in the US. In fact, it’s 12th lowest, with 47 murders in 2018. Still, it is the most dangerous state. 

With an imprisonment rate of 343 and a relatively low poverty rate of around 11%, it is a violent place compared to the rest of the US. Additionally, a rape rate of 161.6 contributes to the ranking. The most dangerous city in Alaska is Anchorage.

15. New Mexico is the second most violent state in the US.

(Source: USA Today)

Observing the states by crime rate the second most violent state is New Mexico, with a violent crime rate of 856.6 per 100,000 people, even though it’s the 22nd lowest in murders. 

The poverty rate is high, up to 19.5%, and the imprisonment rate is 448 per 100,000.

A total of  17,949 violent crimes was recorded in 2018, and the most dangerous city is considered to be Gallup.

16. The third most dangerous state in the US is Tennessee. 

(Source: USA Today)

With a violent crime rate of 623.7, Tennesee is the third most dangerous state and 13th highest looking at the murder rate in the US, with 498. With a poverty rate of 15.3% and an imprisonment rate of 553 per 100,000, the state recorded 42,226 violent crimes in 2018. The most dangerous city is Memphis. 

17. Maine is the safest state, with a violent crime rate of 112.1 and only 10 murders in 2018.

(Source: USA Today)

Looking at violent crime by state, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire are the safest states.

Maine, with a violent crime rate of 112.1 per 100,000, tops the list. With 24 murders in 2018, it is the seventh-lowest looking at murder stats by state. Its most dangerous city is Augusta.

18. Vermont has a violent crime rate of 172 and an imprisonment rate of 222.

(Source: USA Today)

In 2018, Vermont recorded only 10 murders, making it the state with the fewest people killed. It has the lowest robbery rate nationwide and is the fourth lowest on the aggravated assault list.

It’s considered one of the two safest states in the USA. Vermont’s most dangerous city is Rutland.

19. New Hampshire had an 11.1% drop in violent crimes and is the third least violent state.

(Source: USA Today)

New Hampshire has the lowest poverty rate in the country, just 7.6%. Looking at the crime rate by state in 2018, it recorded the largest decline in violent crimes. Its most dangerous city is Manchester.

The rate in 2018 stood at 173.2 per 100,000 people. With a total of 21 murders, it’s the sixth from the bottom. This makes it one of the states with the lowest crime rate in the US


Murder Rate by State Demographics

murder rate by state

20. Guns, firearms, and rifles killed 10,265 people in the United States in 2018. 

(Source: FBI, News Channel 20)

Looking at the weapons used to commit the crime, the majority of murders in the US are carried out with guns and firearms. The total firearms death count for 2018 was 10,265.

Here’s the breakdown:

Knives were used in 1515 cases, and 443 victims were killed with blunt objects or weapons such as hammers and clubs.

The number of all rifle killings in 2018 was 297, lower than in 2017 when it was 400.

Finally, 672 people were killed by the use of hands, feet, and other personal weapons. 

21. Men use guns as a weapon of choice two-thirds of the time.

(Source: Washington Post)

Women use guns in a lot less than 50%, but guns are still the most common weapon of choice for both sexes. 

After guns, women are more likely to use knives or any object at hand. Women kill more by stabbing, choking, poison, arson, drowning, explosive, and even throwing someone out the window. In contrast, men tend to commit murders by beating, strangulation, and blunt objects. 

Poison was always labeled as a woman’s weapon. In fact, women are four times more likely to use it than men even if there is a greater number of men that have killed with poison (1%), simply because they kill three times more often in general. 

Women use drowning as a way to commit murder seven times more than men.

22. A Black man has a 1 in 21 chance of being murdered.

(Source: NY Times)

If you are an average American, the odds of you being murdered are as low as 1 in 133. This is the conclusion of the government’s first study on the risks of violent crimes.

If you are a Black man, though, the odds of being murdered are 1 in 21. For a White man, the chance of getting murdered is 1 in 131.

White women’s odds are 1 in 369, and Black women have a 1 in 104 chance of being a murder victim.

23. Men are killed three times more often than women.

(Source: Statista)

Looking at murder numbers by gender and race, men are killed considerably more often than women.

What’s more: 

Black men are most likely to be the victims of murder.

Homicide statistics show that the total number of men murdered in 2018 was 10,914, while the number of women was 3,180.

The number of murdered white men was 4,255. The number of white women was 1,832.

Black men were murdered in 6,237 cases, while the number for the Black women killed was 1,168. Hispanic men were killed in 1,752 cases, and Hispanic women in 421 cases.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the full list of homicide rates by state:

24. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama had the highest homicide rates in 2018. 

(Source: CDC)

Before we move on to the international murder rates statistics, here’s the full SDC list of the 

homicides by the state in the United States for 2018

The definite 2019 murder rates by state data are yet to come out. The murder rate by state 2020 data will be available in 2021.

Homicide rate by state in 2018:

STATEHOMICIDE RATENUMBER OF DEATHS
Mississippi13.4382
Louisiana13.3598
Alabama12.2568
Missouri11.4658
New Mexico10.8215
South Carolina10.2481
Maryland9.3541
Tennessee9.2604
Arkansas9.1264
Illinois8994
Nevada7.7225
Georgia7.7794
Alaska7.556
Indiana7.4473
Oklahoma,7265
Ohio6.8760
Delaware6.857
Florida6.61315
Michigan6.5613
Pennsylvania6.4781
North Carolina6.4647
Kentucky6.1258
Arizona6.1420
Kansas5.9160
West Virginia5.897
Texas5.41557
Virginia5.1425
California4.81890
Colorado4.7263
Montana4.242
Wyoming4.122
Wisconsin3.9204
South Dakota3.932
Washington3.7275
New Jersey3.7311
New York3.2611
Hawaii3.140
Connecticut2.892
Iowa2.781
Oregon2.5102
North Dakota,2.520
Minnesota2.3122
Massachusetts2.3158
Idaho2.341
Utah2.267
Nebraska1.935
New Hampshire1.821
Maine019
Rhode Island016
Vermont014

International Murder Rates

25. The murder rate by continent shows North and South America have the highest numbers.

(Source: UNODC statistics online)

The highest international murder rates can be found in North and South America, 15.9 per 100,000 total population. Next is Africa, with a rate of 12.5, followed by Europe with 3.2, Oceania with 3, and Asia with 2.9.

United States murder rates are just below the world average at 5.0.

26. The first five cities in the world by murder rate are in Mexico.

(Source: USA Today, Seguridad Justizia Paz)

The ten cities with the highest murder rates in the world are:

  • Tijuana, Mexico, with 2,367 murders, and a rate of 134.24
  • Juárez, Mexico, with 1,522 murders, and a rate of 104.54
  • Uruapan, Mexico, with 301 murders, and a rate of 85.54
  • Irapuato, Mexico, with 723 murders, and a rate of 80.74
  • Obregón, Mexico, with 281 murders, and a rate of 80.72
  • Caracas, Venezuela, with 2,134 murders and a rate of 74.65
  • Acapulco, Mexico, with 600 murders, and a rate of 71.61
  • Cape Town, South Africa, with 3,065 murders, and a rate of 68.28
  • St. Louis, United States, with 194 murders, and a rate of 64.54
  • Vitória da Conquista, Brazil, with 205 murders, and a rate of 60.01

27. Tijuana is the world murder capital, with 2,640 murders in 2018.

(Source: USA Today)

When it comes to murder rate by city, the city with the most homicides per 100,000 total population, 138, is Tijuana. Located just 15 miles from San Diego, this city recorded 2,640 homicides in 2018 per population of just under 2 million.

28. El Salvador is the country with the highest murder rate of 61.8 per 100,000 population.

(Source: World Population)

The countries with the most murders are:

El Salvador with a murder rate of 61.80, followed by Jamaica with 57, Honduras with 41.7,

Lesotho with 41.2, Belize with 37.9, South Africa with 35.9, Brazil with 30.5, Saint Lucia with 29.6, Guatemala with 26.1, and Dominica with 25.7 of murdered individuals.

29. Japan has the lowest murder rate at only 0.2 per 100,000 citizens.

(Source: World Population)

Many countries with the lowest murder rates are in Asia. The leader is Japan, due to its very strict gun laws and the death penalty by hanging for firearm murders.

The UN’s Global Study on Homicide records the following ten countries as the ones with the lowest murder and homicide rates. 

Those are Japan and Singapore with a rate of just 0.2, Hong Kong and Luxembourg with 0.3, Indonesia with 0.4, Norway, Oman, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates with 0.5, and China with 0.6.


In Conclusion

Violent crime the homicide rates follow poverty and unemployment trends. So, it’s no surprise that the states with a large percentage of people living below the poverty line would see high crime rates.

The full homicide stats and analyses for 2019 and 2020 are yet to be published. However, it’s already clear that the first half of 2020 witnessed a staggering rise in murder rates in most major cities across the US.

Bottom line:

While most of the country saw a sharp decline in violent crime and property crime (including burglary), murders were on the rise during the COVID-19 lockdown. What effect that will have on the overall murder rate by state and next year’s reports remains to be seen.

Sources:

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