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Expert Brief

Preliminary Analysis of 2018 FBI Uniform Crime Report

According to the FBI, the overall crime rate fell 6.5 percent in 2018. The murder rate declined by 6.8 percent nationally.

Published: September 30, 2019

On Monday, the FBI released its final analysis of “Crime in 2018, as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting program. Below are some quick facts, based on a preliminary review of the data:

  • Murder: Nationally, the murder rate fell by 6.8 percent in 2018 to 4.96 offenses per 100,000 people. This marks the second consecutive year in which the murder rate has declined, this time by a larger amount. While the national murder rate remains above 2014’s recent low point (4.44 per 100,000), it is also nearly half of 1991’s high point (9.80).
    • Declines were especially pronounced in the largest cities. In cities with populations over 1 million, the murder rate decreased by 8.5 percent.
    • Baltimore and Chicago — two major cities with relatively high murder rates which saw significant increases in 2015 and 2016 — both saw their murder rates decline, by roughly 9 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
  • Violent Crime: The violent crime rate declined by 3.9 percent nationally in 2018.
    • Robbery was the offense that saw the sharpest drop, with roughly 38,000 fewer offenses compared to 2017.
    • The rate of rape offenses rose by 2.1 percent. This increase is unlikely to reflect solely an increase in the reporting of sexual offenses, as the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey also found that rape offenses increased.
  • Overall Crime: The national crime rate — the rate of property and violent crimes tracked by the FBI — fell 6.5 percent in 2018, and property crime dropped by roughly 7 percent. It marks the 17th consecutive year in which both metrics of crime have declined.
  • Major Cities: In the 30 major cities tracked by Brennan Center reports, the murder rate dropped by 7.5 percent. This is consistent with the Brennan Center’s earlier analysis of this group, which, working with data from 26 of the 30 cities, estimated an 8.0 percent decline.

Across all three metrics, crime in the United States remains at or near the bottom of downtrend that has lasted more than a quarter century. But some cities have not shared in the broader trend toward greater safety. More innovative solutions are needed to preserve and expand on public safety gains.

Read the Brennan Center final estimate for 2018 released in June, here.

(Note: all data points in this analysis were calculated from unrounded figures. Further, previous Brennan Center analyses have excluded Honolulu, Hawaii from the definition of “the thirty largest cities,” due to gaps in the city’s historical crime data. Future reports will re-introduce it, as more data are now available, but this analysis continues to exclude it.)