In this final analysis of crime rates in 2018, we estimate that rates of violent crime, murder, and overall crime declined in the 30 largest American cities, with significant declines in murder. The data in this report are collected directly from local police departments. The FBI’s final 2018 data, covering the entire United States, will be released in September.
The data reported here refine an initial Brennan Center report released in September, Crime and Murder in 2018: A Preliminary Analysis, which concluded that “increases in the murder rate in 2015 and 2016 were temporary, rather than signaling a reversal in the long-term downward trend” in crime and violence. A December update reached the same conclusion, showing rates of crime, violent crime, and homicide all declining. These continuing declines indicate that, while increases in crime in 2015 and 2016 merit further study, they did not signal the start of a new “crime wave.”
Updated Tables 1 and 2 support conclusions similar to the Brennan Center’s September and December reports, and now include complete data through the end of the year:
Murder: The 2018 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estimated to have declined by 8.0 percent since 2017. This finding indicates that the major-city murder rate will approximate 2015 levels but remain above 2014’s low point.
Modest declines in most cities explain this decrease. The murder rate in Chicago, which increased significantly in 2015 and 2016, declined by nearly 12 percent but remains roughly 40 percent above 2014 levels. Baltimore, another city that continues to struggle with violence, also saw its murder rate decline by 9.1 percent. While Las Vegas saw its murder rate decrease significantly, by more than 40 percent, part of this decline is attributable to the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort, which led to an unusually high homicide total in 2017.
Some cities saw their murder rates rise in 2018, such as Washington, DC (35.6 percent) and Philadelphia (8.5 percent). These increases suggest a need to better understand how and why murder is increasing in some cities. New York City’s murder rate also increased, but by less than 1 percent, making it essentially the same as the 2017 rate.
Crime: The overall crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2018 is estimated to have declined slightly from the previous year, falling by 3.5 percent. If final FBI data track these findings, crime will have again reached a record low, driven by declining rates of property crime.
Violent Crime: The violent crime rate is also estimated to have declined, falling by 4.0 percent from 2017.
Estimates of crime and violent crime are based on data from 25 of the nation’s 30 largest cities; estimates of murder include data from 26 cities. The Brennan Center’s previous report on crime in 2018 is available here, and a report studying crime trends from 1990 to 2016 is available here.