The U.S. murder rate is at its highest level in nearly two and half decades. A total of 21,570 murders were committed nationwide in 2020, up nearly 30% from the previous year — the largest annual increase on record.
The rash of deadly violence came during a tumultuous year in American history. The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures and left millions of Americans out of work. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer rattled confidence in American law enforcement and sparked nationwide protests. Firearms sales soared, resulting in the proliferation of tens of millions of new guns. Here is a look at the states where gun sales are surging.
Some experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in the rising homicide rate. While it may be years before the precise causal factors are identified, the effects are being felt in communities across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicide as a contributing factor in the historic 1.5 year decline in life expectancy in the U.S. last year — trailing only COVID-19 and accidental deaths, like drug overdoses, in significance.
There were a total of 329 murders in New Jersey in 2020, or 3.7 for every 100,000 people — the 15th lowest murder rate among states. For comparison, the national homicide rate stands at 6.5 per 100,000.
Along with rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, murder is one component of the broader violent crime category. Just as New Jersey has a lower than average murder rate, its overall violent crime rate is also lower than average. There were a total of 195 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the state in 2020, compared to 399 per 100,000 nationwide.
All data used in this story, including population figures used to calculate population-adjusted crime rates, is from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report.
RankGeoMurders per 100,000 people, 2020Total murders, 2020Violent crimes per 100,000 people, 20201Louisiana15.87346392Missouri11.87235433Arkansas10.63216723Mississippi10.63152915South Carolina10.55495316Alabama9.64714546Tennessee9.66636738Illinois9.11,1514268Maryland9.155340010Georgia8.894340011North Carolina8.085241912Pennsylvania7.91,00939013New Mexico7.816477814Michigan7.675447815Indiana7.550535816Delaware7.47343216Oklahoma7.429645918Kentucky7.232325919Ohio7.082030920Arizona6.951348521Alaska6.74983822Texas6.61,93144722West Virginia6.611735624Virginia6.152420925Florida5.91,29038426Nevada5.718046027California5.62,20344228Wisconsin5.330832329Colorado5.129442330Montana5.05447031South Dakota4.54050132New York4.280836432North Dakota4.23232934Connecticut3.914018234Washington3.930129436New Jersey3.732919537Nebraska3.66933438Iowa3.511130439Kansas3.410042539Minnesota3.419027841Utah3.110226141Wyoming3.11823443Rhode Island3.03223144Hawaii2.94125444Oregon2.912529246Massachusetts2.316030947Idaho2.24124347Vermont2.21417349Maine1.62210950New Hampshire0.912146
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