Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square
The U.S. violent crime rate — an annual, population-adjusted measure of cases of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and homicide — climbed by 5% in 2020. The increase was driven by a rise in aggravated assault and, most notably, a historic 29% surge in homicides that made 2020 the deadliest year in the United States since the mid-1990s.
Despite the largest single-year increase in homicides on record, the overall violent crime rate in 2020 remains relatively low by historical standards. There were 1.3 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. in 2020, or 399 for every 100,000 people. For context, the violent crime rate ranged between 523 and 758 incidents per 100,000 throughout the 1990s.
Of course, crime is a local phenomenon influenced by a wide range of factors. As a result, violent crime rates in the U.S. can vary considerably from place to place — and in some metro areas, rates of violence far exceed the nation-level highs recorded in decades past.
Following a 21.3% spike, the violent crime rate in the Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, metro area stands at 683 per 100,000 — higher than in the vast majority of U.S. metropolitan areas. The increase was led by homicides, which more than doubled from 41 in 2019 to 85 in 2020.
Deadly violence in the area has continued to surge into 2021, prompting Shreveport’s chief of police to step down following a vote of no confidence from the city council. Local experts claim that the pandemic has exacerbated existing socioeconomic problems, like poverty, that are linked to crime. An estimated 22.2% of metro area residents live below the poverty line, compared to 12.3% of all Americans.
Metro areas are ranked on their violent crime rate using data from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report. Additional data on specific crimes are also from the 2020 FBI UCR. Poverty rates are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.