New FBI stats show largest homicide increase on record in 2020

The FBI data show around 21,500 total murders last year, which is 5,000 more murders than in 2019.

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The FBI’s annual report released Monday made official what most presumed: The United States in 2020 experienced the biggest rise in murder since the start of national recordkeeping 60 years ago.

The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) revealed a rise in murder of nearly 30%.

The previous largest one-year change was a 12.7% increase in 1968. The national rate of murders per 100,000, however, still remains about one-third below early 1990s rates.

The FBI data show around 21,500 total murders last year, which is 5,000 more murders than in 2019. More than three-fourths of reported murders in 2020 were committed with a firearm, the highest rate ever reported.

Murder rose by 35% in cities with populations above 250,000 but also was up more than 40% in cities with 100,000 to 250,000 residents. Even towns with under 25,000 people saw a roughly 25% increase in homicides.

Earlier this year, the FBI reported that murder was up at least 20% in every region of the country, including a 30% increase in the Midwest. Louisiana had the highest murder rate of any state for a 32nd straight year.

On the flip side, property crimes declined almost 8%, the 18th consecutive year estimates for these offenses fell.

Last year’s statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 387.8 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, a rise of more than 5%, and the estimated rate of property crime was under 2,000 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants.

Of the 18,619 federal, state, county, city, university, and tribal agencies eligible to participate in the UCR Program, nearly 16,000 agencies submitted data in 2020.

A few more noteworthy stats include:

  • An estimated 1,277,696 violent crimes in 2020.
  • The estimated number of robberies fell nearly 10% and rape offenses decreased 12%. However, the estimated number of aggravated assault offenses rose 12%.
  • There were an estimated 6,452,038 property crimes, with burglaries dropping 7.4%, while motor vehicle thefts rose nearly 12%.
  • The FBI estimated law enforcement agencies nationwide made 7.6 million arrests in 2020.

While pandemic-inspired lockdowns contributed to the rise in violent crime — even though media assumed the opposite —  the “Defund the police movement,” led by partisan groups like Black Lives Matter, the Minneapolis City Council and Democratic politicians, also played a role. Minneapolis police alone have lost several hundred officers in the wake of George Floyd’s May 2020 death.

Republican gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota have pushed for more police support.