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Homicides in the US Fall for Second Year as Murder Rate Drops in 38 States

As 2018 came to an end, politicians and media pundits insisted that ” gun violence ” was growing and hitting crisis levels .

While a homicide rate of anything greater than zero is an measure of very-real human misery, it nonetheless turns out that fewer people were murdered in 2018 than in the year before. Moreover, 2018 was the second year in a row during which the homicide rate declined.

According to new homicide statistics released by the FBI last month, the homicide rate in the United States was 5 per 100,000 people. That was down from 5.3 per 100,000 in 2017 and down from 5.4 in 2016. In 2014, the homicide rate in the US hit a 57-year low, dropping to 4.4 per 100,000, making it the lowest homicide rate recorded since 1957.

At 5 per 100,000, 2018’s homicide rate has been cut nearly in half since the 1970s and the early 1990s when the national homicide rate frequently exceeded nine percent.

The regions with the largest declines were New England and the Mountain west where homicide rates decreased 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively. The only region reporting an increase was the Mid Atlantic region, with an increase of one percent. This was driven largely by an increase in homicides in Pennsylvania.

At the state level, the homicide rate went down in 38 states, and increased in 12.

The states with the lowest homicide rates were South Dakota, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The states with the lowest rates were nearly all found in New England and in the West. For additional context, I have graphed US states with Canadian provinces (in red):…[ ]

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