New data shows US homicide rate rising, but at a slower rate

Murder rates in major American cities were 16% higher in the first half of 2021 than in the same period in 2020

By Suzie Ziegler 

WASHINGTON — Data released Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) shows that murder rates in major American cities continue to rise, but at a slower pace than in the first half of 2021. 

According to the CCJ, a study of 22 cities found that the number of murders was 16% higher in the first six months of 2021 than during the same period in 2020, and 42% higher than 2019. To put that in context, the 2021 homicide rate is still about half of what it was in the early 1990s, the report says. 

Regardless, the study’s authors called for “urgent action” to address the violence. To investigate causes of the spike, the CCJ is launching a new panel called the Violent Crime Working Group. The panel aims to “help decision-makers translate rigorous evidence and lived experience into effective policy and practice,” according to the release. The group will be comprised of 15 leaders in law enforcement, public health, academia and community violence intervention. 

“The recent rise in homicide has added urgency to our efforts to bring peace to our cities,” said Thomas Abt, a violence reduction expert and panel member with the CCJ. “The Council is grateful for this diverse group of experts who have dedicated themselves to this project, and I firmly believe our collaboration can produce solutions that can make a difference now.” 

The study also showed that some major offenses declined in the first half of 2021. Those included robbery (-6%), residential burglary (-9%), nonresidential burglary (-9%), larceny (-6%) and drug offenses (-12%). Meanwhile, vehicle theft rates were up 21%. Researchers also noted that domestic violence rates were 2% higher, but that data was based on just 12 cities. 

The study was conducted at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and included crime data from a total of 29 cities, according to the release. The largest city in the study was Los Angeles, and the smallest was Norfolk, Virginia. Not all cities reported data for every crime. 

Read the full report below:

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