America's 10 Deadliest Cities 2013

According to data reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the number of violent crimes in the United States rose in 2012, after falling for five consecutive years previously. The FBI’s category of violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and non-negligent manslaughter. Approximately 1.2% more violent crimes occurred across the country in 2012, and in some cities the growth of crime was even higher. The following data table is based on the FBI Uniform Crime Report via 24/7 Wall St and Yahoo! Homes. 

What can we learn from these numbers? First, there’s an important pattern to notice: The poverty rates in the most dangerous cities are sky-high. Compare Flint’s 40% to the nation’s 10% poverty rate in 2011. It’s almost inconceivable. These rates are certainly due to a number of reasons, but many of the cities have had struggling economies, even before the Great Recession of 2008.  With businesses and people leaving these cities instead of coming, poverty is exacerbated where it already exists. The relocation of money is a decimating cycle for these urban areas. 

With economic decline comes the rise of crippling unemployment, another pattern in the nation’s most dangerous cities.  Seven of the 10 most dangerous cities had unemployment rates over 10% in 2012, showing a correlation similar to poverty.

On the other hand, New York City is the product of the cycle moving in the opposite direction — with more money being redistributed into the city, the Big Apple has virtually fallen off high crime lists. This may be an important indication of the ultimate goal city leaders should strive for in these dangerous cities.

It’s also interesting to notice the percentage of adults with high school degrees in these cities. The percentages are all under the 85% average nationwide, which again, may strictly be correlation, but it is more likely that these cities create an atmosphere that takes the focus off high-school graduation

Cities can learn from these patterns. Oftentimes, cities with higher violent crime rates also have higher property crime and burglary rates. Obviously, greater law enforcement presence contributes to drops in crime. Additionally, cutting police department budgets often leads to an increase in crime.

Clearly, there is a correlation between these factors, but it is difficult to pinpoint the source of the cycle. Does poverty cause crime? Or does crime create an environment that fosters poverty? In the same vein, how can city officials attract new businesses and residents while there’s huge fear of violence?  These are certainly questions that city governments are grappling and will continue to grapple with when trying to tackle crime rates.