Murders Were Up Again in 2016 Across Major U.S. Cities

Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In Chicago, the number of homicides hit 762, a bloody number not seen in two decades. But St. Louis, not the Windy City, is the murder capital of the United States: 188 killings, which, according to analysis by FiveThirtyEight, comes out to 60 homicides per 100,000 residents — a rate that ranks among the highest in the world.

The 2016 murder rate in many major U.S. cities is up for the second straight year, though the FBI has yet to release its official national crime statistics. The increases weren’t as massive as 2015 – which saw the highest single-year uptick since 1971 – but puts a snag in the decades-long downward trend of violent crime. FiveThirtyEight crunched the numbers, and based on available crime stats and media reports, estimates the rise in cities to be about 11.3 percent compared to 14.8 percent for the same grouping of municipalities in 2015.

A handful of cities — including Chicago — altogether accounted for more than 75 percent of the overall murder rise in 2016, according to FiveThirtyEight:

Among the notable rises outside of Chicago were increases of 56 percent in Memphis, 61 percent in San Antonio, 44 percent in Louisville, 36 percent in Phoenix and 31 percent in Las Vegas. Taken together, those six cities accounted for 76 percent of the overall big city murder rise in 2016.

Baltimore, which witnessed a surge of violence, and its deadliest year in 2015, saw its homicides numbers dip about 6 percent, though it was still the second-highest figure after last year. Yet it still has the second-highest murder rate (killings per 100,00 people) behind St. Louis.

One critical note: The overall U.S. murder (that is, not just in major cities) rate remains at historically low levels across the board, even with this two-year jump. And New York — America’s biggest city — saw record low crime-rates in 2016, including a more than 4 percent decrease in murder and a historic drop — below 1,000 — in shootings. Its 335 homicides is tied, with 2013, for the second lowest on record.

Murders Were Up Again in 2016 Across Major U.S. Cities