There were 16,214 homicides in the United States in 2018. This number translates to five killings per 100,000 people during that year. If you divide the total number of murders by 365, the number of days in a year, you get 44.42 murders per day, which means that around 44 people were murdered each day in the United States.
States with the Highest Percentages and Totals of Murder
In 2018, the states with the highest murder rates per 100,000 residents were Louisiana (11.4 per thousand), Missouri (9.2), Alaska (8.2), Maryland (8.1), New Mexico (8.0), Alabama (7.8), South Carolina (7.7), and Tennessee (7.4). Arkansas and Illinois round out the top 10 with respective rates of 7.2 and 6.9 per thousand.
With 1,739 overall homicides in 2018, California is head and shoulders above the competition. Texas ranks second with 1,322 overall homicides, followed by Florida with 1,107. Pennsylvania was second with 784, followed by Georgia with 642, North Carolina with 628, Missouri with 607, Ohio with 564, and New York with 564.
States with the Lowest Percentages and Totals of Murder
South Dakota had the lowest murder rate per 100,000 residents in 2018 with 1.4 murders per thousand, followed by Rhode Island and New Hampshire with 1.5 murders per thousand each, Vermont with 1.6 murders per thousand, Iowa with 1.7 murders per thousand, Maine with 1.8 murders per thousand, Minnesota and Utah with 1.9 murders per thousand each, Oregon and Massachusetts with 2.0 murders per thousand each.
In 2018, Vermont had the lowest overall number of homicides at 10. South Dakota follows closely with 12 points, followed by Wyoming with 13, Rhode Island with 16, and North Dakota with 18 points. Outside of the top five, there were 21 murders in New Hampshire in 2018, followed by 24 in Maine, 34 in Montana, 35 in Idaho, and 36 in Hawaii.
How the Federal Government Compiles Statistics on Homicide
FBI collects annual murder statistics. According to a narrow definition of murder as “the purposeful (non-negligent) death of one human being by another,” these are the murder rates and totals. In calculating murder statistics, the FBI relies on the conclusions of law enforcement agencies rather than court judgements.
Certain types of deaths are not included in the FBI’s statistics on murder. Suicide, accidental fatalities, and negligent deaths are not considered murders. Additionally, the FBI subtracts self-defense killings and criminals slain by law enforcement from the total number of murders.
The Circumstances Surrounding Killings
Additionally, FBI statistics break down the circumstances behind homicides. While the vast majority of homicides occur under unclear circumstances, many killings occur during the commission of another crime. The majority of homicides occur during robberies or drug-related crimes, while fewer occur during other violent offences. Money-related disputes account for a greater proportion of killings than interpersonal violence. There are the same number of adolescent gang-related homicides as adult gang-related murders.
Additionally, the FBI investigates the connections between murderers and their victims. The vast majority of murder victims are acquaintances of their murderers, with wives and girlfriends being considerably more probable targets than husbands and boyfriends. Sons and brothers are more likely to be victims than sisters and daughters.
Even though the U.S. murder rate fluctuates from year to year, it often remains within a stable range. The recent developments in crime data have provided some optimism to statisticians. After two years of strong increase, the murder rate in 2018 decreased significantly compared to the previous two years.
Particularly, murder rates in large cities have decreased at a faster rate than the overall murder rate. Statisticians have observed that the rates in larger cities are indicative of national trends. The murder rates in the 21st century are far lower than they were in the 1980s and 1990s, which is another positive trend for people with a longer perspective.