Crime in 2016: Final Year-End Data

Chicago accounted for more than 55 percent of the murder increase last year, according to a new analysis of crime data by the Brennan Center. The overall national crime rate remained stable.

June 6, 2017

This analysis finds that Americans are safer today than they have been at almost any time in the past 25 years.

Based on new year-end data collected from police departments in the 30 largest cities, crime in 2016 remained at historic lows across the country. Although there are some troubling increases in murder in specific cities, these trends do not signal the start of a new national crime wave. What’s more startling, this analysis finds that the increase in murders is even more concentrated than initially expected. Chicago now accounts for more than 55.1 percent of the total increase in urban murders — up from an earlier projection of 43.7 percent.

Final Year-End Findings:

  • The overall crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2016 remained largely unchanged from last year. Specifically, overall crime rose by 0.9 percent, essentially remaining stable.
  • The murder rate rose in this group of cities last year by 13.1 percent.  
  • Alarmingly, Chicago accounted for 55.1 percent of the total increase in urban murders — more than preliminary data suggested.
  • A similar phenomenon occurred in 2015, when three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — accounted for more than half (53.5 percent) of the increase in murders.
  • Some cities are experiencing an increase in murder while other forms of crime remain relatively low. Concerns about a national crime wave are premature, but these trends suggest a need to understand how and why murder is increasing in these cities.
  • Violent crime rates rose slightly. The 4.2 percent increase was driven by Chicago (16.5 percent) and Baltimore (18.6 percent). Violent crime still remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year downward trend.

The Brennan Center’s previous analysis of crime in 2016 is available here, and a previous report studying crime trends from 1990 to 2016 is available here.

Crime in 2016: Final Year-End Data