10 Most Dangerous States in The US (2023 Update)
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Violent crime rates have rocketed in the US since 2019 with FBI statistics showing a 30% increase in murder rates: the largest single-year increase since the 1960s. However, during the same period, other violent crimes including rape, and crimes against properties, decreased.
2020 was an extraordinary year with the global Coronavirus pandemic leading to contested stay-at-home orders and economic uncertainty throughout the country. According to the Global Peace Index report by the Institute for Economics & Peace, the USA ranked as the world’s 121st most peaceful country from a total of 163 countries: the same position it held in 2019.
Below, we have listed 10 of the most dangerous states in the US, considering violent crime rates including murder, assault, rape, and other serious crimes.
The 10 Most Dangerous States in The US: A Quick Look
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||478|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+9.3%|
Michigan is the state with the tenth highest rate of violent crimes in the US. As in many states, the greatest concentration of violent and major crimes occur in Michigan’s most populous cities. While the state has less than 500 violent crimes per 100,000 people, its most populous city, Detroit, sees 1,088 per 100,000. The Detroit metro area saw approximately 40% of the state’s violent crimes in 2020. Detroit recorded 328 homicides in 2020: an increase of 17% from the year before and the first time it has risen above 300 since 2016.
Violent crime rates across the state have risen by 9.3% over 12 months. However, since 2009, most violent crime rates in the state have dropped. Violent crimes have dropped from 49,000 to 43,000 while cases of robbery have halved from 11,522 to 5,350. The number of burglaries has also tumbled, from 74,345 in 2010 to 28,572 in 2019. The notable exception is that of rape: incidents have increased from 4,733 to 7,235.
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||485|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+6.5%|
With a 6.5% increase in violent crime rates, Arizona has not seen as much of an increase as 10th placed Michigan, but The Grand Canyon State saw a 40.5% increase in homicide rates, leading to 513 reported murders in 2020 and a total of 485 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens.
The state is best known for being home to The Grand Canyon, but it is also the ninth most dangerous state in the US. Areas that are considered the most dangerous or crime-ridden include the former mining town of Globe. As well as seeing 2,141 violent crimes per 100,000 people, the largest number of any city in the state, residents are especially prone to property crimes with 7,380 such crimes reported per 100,000 people. When it comes to property crimes, though, Globe is eclipsed by Tolleson. 1 in 11 residents fall victim to property crime.
The state’s most populous city, Phoenix, has 849 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 people, including 120 homicides, 660 rapes, 2,040 robberies, and 5,670 assaults per 100,000.
8. South Dakota
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||501|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+25.7%|
Despite being one of the least populous states in the US, South Dakota is one of the most dangerous, reporting 501 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Only seven states have higher violent crime rates, and the home of Mount Rushmore experienced a more than 25% increase in violent crimes in 2020. This is the second-highest increase of any state, driven by a massive 135% increase in the number of homicides. 17 homicides were reported in 2019, compared to 40 in 2020.
The most common violent crime committed in South Dakota was aggravated assault, accounting for 80% of the total.
Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota by population and has one of the worst crime rates. The city saw 555 aggravated assaults, five murders, and 121 rapes. It also experienced 5,288 property crimes during the year. However, it is Mitchell, a city with just over 15,000 residents, that has the worst rates in the state. 81 violent crimes and 573 property crimes were reported in 2018, according to FBI statistics.
7. South Carolina
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||531|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+3.8%|
Although it has a high rate of violent crime incidents, at 531 per 100,000 people, South Carolina saw only a modest increase of 3.8% in 2020 compared to 2019. This includes 10.5 murders for every 100,000, however, which is the fifth highest of any state. The 549 reported murders are higher than in many states that have a much larger populous.
Regarding individual cities, Spartanburg is considered the most dangerous, having witnessed the equivalent of 1,200 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Although Charleston itself doesn’t make the list of the most dangerous cities in the state, North Charleston, with a population of 114,852 and the third most populous city in South Carolina, attracts 960 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents.
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||543|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+9.6%|
Missouri is home to some big cities, which is part of the cause for the state being the 6th most dangerous in the US. Its population of just over 6 million people saw 723 homicides in 2020 and had a violent crime rate of 543 per 100,000 people. This represents a 9.6% increase compared to the year before.
Of the major cities, it is Springfield, the third largest, that ranks as the most dangerous. It has the second most violent and second most property crimes of all cities in Missouri. St Louis recorded nearly 6,000 violent crimes and has the highest murder rate in the state. Kansas City, with a population of nearly half a million people, is the largest city, and residents have a 1 in 69 chance of being subjected to violent crime. However, property crime In Kansas City is lower than in any other city in the state.
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||639|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+16.4%|
Louisiana has the 5th highest violent crime rate by state but may be considered more dangerous because it has the highest ratio of homicides per 100,000 population. In fact, with 734 homicides in the year 2000, there are nearly 16 murders for every 100,000 people. However, it is worth noting that while Louisiana has a population of less than 5 million, the state receives more than 50 million visitors every year, on average. The state’s violent crime rate rose by more than 16%, which is more than double the national average increase.
Louisiana isn’t unique in receiving so many visitors, but it does push the numbers higher than some other states with large populations. Many of the people visiting the state flock to New Orleans, which ranks as having 1,144 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 population. Considering more than 1 million people visit the city during Fat Tuesday celebrations, what is surprising is that New Orleans does not feature in the list of the 10 most dangerous cities in the state that often. Louisiana cities that are considered the most dangerous include Hammond, Opelousas, and Alexandria.
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||672|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+14.9%|
Arkansas is a relatively small state with a population of 3 million but is considered the 4th most dangerous. 321 homicides mean that it has a higher murder rate than some of the much more populous states, and it has seen a 14.9% increase in violent incidents, 80% of which are aggravated assaults.
Little Rock is the busiest city and the state capital. There are 939 recorded incidents of violent crime per 100,000, but this actually puts it below the state’s most dangerous city, which is Pine Bluff, where the rate is more than 1,000 per 100,000.
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||673|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||+13%|
With an increase in violent crimes of 13%, Tennessee residents experienced 673 violent crimes per 100,000 people, making it the 3rd most dangerous state. It is the most dangerous state in the South, and the high number comes thanks to a violent crime rate of 1,359 per 100,000 in Memphis. Not only is this the highest crime rate for a city in Tennessee, but is the highest of any metro area in the country, although it is disputed with Anchorage in Alaska. Even the likes of Church Hill, Signal Mountain, and Mount Carmel, considered the safest cities in the state, cannot drag the numbers back down.
FBI statistics show that you had a 1 in 90 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Memphis as well as a 1 in 25 chance of property crime, and there is a 1 in 240 chance of vehicle theft and a 1 in 5,722 chance of homicide.
2. New Mexico
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||778|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||-6.5%|
New Mexico may feature second in this list, but it is one of only two states that has seen an annual drop in its violent crime rate and has seen the greatest improvement of the ten states, with 6.5% fewer reported crimes. However, despite a significant reduction in violent crimes, there are still 778 reported violent incidents per 100,000 population. There are also high vehicle and property theft rates in the state, as well as higher package theft rates than in the US as a whole.
Memphis is the largest and most dangerous city in the state. Here, there are 1,107 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. Milan, Corrales, and Raton are the safest New Mexico cities.
|Violent crimes (per 100,000 people):||838|
|Violent crime rate annual change:||-3.4%|
Alaska has one of the lowest population densities of any state, but it is the most dangerous to live in. It has 838 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, which is 360 more than Michigan in 10th place and 55 more than its next nearest rival, New Mexico. Despite its high rates of violence, Alaska is one of only 14 states that saw a decline in 2020, although its 3.4% drop is not as significant as that of New Mexico’s own decline. The state’s violent crime rate is more than double that of the USA’s rate of 398.5.
Most major crime occurs in major cities, with Anchorage experiencing 1,171 violent crimes. The Anchorage metropolitan area houses just over 40% of the state’s population but sees nearly 60% of the total recorded violent crimes, in fact.
Are There More or Fewer Violent Crimes In The USA Than Before?
Violent crimes, generally, have steadily decreased since reaching a peak of 758.2 crimes per 100,000 population in 1991. The lowest rate since then came in 2014, with 361.6 per 100,000, which is less than half of the peak rate. Although rates have risen a little in the proceeding years, they remain at around 400, which is significantly lower than their 1990s rate.
What Is The US Crime Rate Compared To Other Countries?
Each country reports crime differently. The US has a violent crime rate equivalent to around 400 incidents per 100,000 population. In England and Wales, 1.32 million crimes were recorded in 2015, but this includes non-violent crimes and other offenses.
What US City Has The Most Crime?
Anchorage sees 1,171 violent crimes per 100,000 people, which makes it the most violent city in the US, although this changes each year. Memphis has 1,107, making it a close second at current crime rates.
Which Is The Safest State In The US?
Using the same criteria as above, Maine is the state with the lowest violent crime rate, equivalent to just 115 incidents per 100,000 people, making it the safest state.
Violent crime rates in the US have dropped over the past 30 years or more. While violent crime rates have continued to drop, the country saw a significant 30% increase in homicide rates in 2019. The most violent state was Alaska, which had 838 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, compared with 115 in Maine, the safest state.
Featured Image Credit: JimmyDominico, Pixabay