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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.)