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The national homicide death rate fell by 6.1% from 2021 to 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The age-adjusted homicide rate had risen 36.7% between 2019 and 2021 from 6.0 homicides per 100,000 people to 8.2. In 2022, the rate fell to 7.7.

In the last three years of data, US homicide rates have been higher than at any other point in the 21st century, but they remain below the peaks of the 1980s and early 1990s.

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Calculating homicide rates per 100,000 people makes it possible to compare the number of incidents across cities and states regardless of population sizes. The CDC also provides age-adjusted data[1], which allows for more appropriate comparisons between different demographics and over time.

Homicide rates by state

In 2022, 12 states had homicide rates less than half the national average, while the top two states exceeded twice the national rate. (Data was unreliable in Vermont and Wyoming.)

Which states have the highest murder rates?

These five states had 2022’s highest homicide rates:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Louisiana
  3. Alabama
  4. New Mexico
  5. Missouri

Which states have the lowest murder rates?

These five states had 2022’s lowest homicide rates:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Utah
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Maine

Here are the 2022 homicide rates for every state:

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Although Washington, DC, had a higher age-adjusted homicide rate (23.7 homicide deaths per 100,000 people) than every state, the national capital is entirely urban, and it’s more appropriate to compare it to counties in major metropolitan areas. Among those, Washington, DC, had the eighth-highest crude homicide death rate (not age-adjusted)[2] in 2022. The large metropolitan counties with the highest rates were:

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How has the murder rate changed over time?

The age-adjusted national homicide rate largely decreased through the 1990s and 2000s, dropping 48.5% from 1991 to a recent low of 5.1 in 2014. Since then, it has risen over 50%.

In 2020, the US recorded its biggest single-year increase in the homicide rate since record collecting began, jumping from 6.0 in 2019 to 7.8 in 2020. The previous record annual increase was a 20 percent increase between 2000 (5.9) to 2001 (7.1), which the CDC attributes to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Which states have had the largest change?

From 2012 to 2022, homicide rates increased in every state with available data[3] except for Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Mississippi had the largest increase in homicide rate, more than doubling from 10.2 to 20.7 per 100,000 people. New Mexico (up 7.9 homicides per 100,000 people), Louisiana (up 7.7), Alabama (up 6.2), and Missouri (up 5.5) had the next-biggest increases.

Murder rates doubled in at least six states over the decade: South Dakota (up 188%), Montana (125%), New Mexico (120%), Alaska (104%), Mississippi (103%), and Hawaii (100%).

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How different government agencies report on homicide

The CDC and FBI are the federal government’s two main homicide data sources. The agencies have slightly different definitions of homicide and different methodologies for collecting and analyzing their data.

The CDC reports on homicide as a cause of death, allowing comparisons among mortality rates, while the FBI reports on homicide in its crime data, allowing comparisons among crime rates.

USAFacts relies on CDC data because of its more complete dataset and consistency over time. The CDC collects homicide data from standardized death certificates, which contain medical information typically entered by coroners or medical examiners. The FBI, meanwhile, relies on local law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting crime data, which many do not. Still, deaths could be miscounted by either agency as homicides (or not) based on limited detail on the circumstances.

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Last updated
June 26, 2023
[1]

Age-adjusted data helps to compare health data over time or between groups more fairly by accounting for the age differences in populations. For example, suppose Population A has a higher average age than Population B. In that case, age-adjusting ensures that Population A's naturally higher death rate due to age doesn't skew comparisons of overall health between the two. This measurement makes death statistic comparisons more accurate than crude death rates.

[2]

The CDC does not provide age-adjusted rates at the county level.

[3]

Data was unavailable for New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.