Things can really change over the years, and that includes a place’s safety.
Population grows, police forces change hands, new regulations are put into practice… there are a multitude of factors that can cause the crime rate to soar or plummet, no matter where you live. This can be seen fairly easily when it comes to state crime statistics in particular.
Here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we’re all about analyzing data, so it was an obvious choice to look into how much crime rates have changed in each state over the last 10 years. Using FBI Uniform Crime Reports, we compiled enough data to see how crime has fluctuated across the United States.
If you want to know more about how we created these maps, you can check the methodology section at the end of this article for additional information. For now, though, let’s discuss some interesting things we found out about crime over the last decade.
The National Average Is Actually Dropping
With the news always talking about major crimes and tragedies across America, you might think that crime is only getting worse. Actually, after looking at the numbers, we found that the national average of crimes per 100,000 people has been dropping steadily for a decade.
In fact, in 2004, there were 3,824.34 crimes per 100,000 people on average in the U.S. For the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report in 2013, there was over a 20 percent decrease in crime compared to just 10 years prior.
This is great news, not just for the nation, but for many states in particular.
Things Really Are Getting Better
A few states stood out more than others in our analysis as spots that have greatly improved since 2004.
Arizona had the worst crime in comparison to the national average that first year, but has made great strides in becoming less dangerous. To be precise, Arizona had 2020.66 crimes per 100,000 people more than the national average in 2004, but that number decreased almost 62 percent by 2013. That’s still not an outstanding score, but it is a marked improvement.
Nevada has also been trending for the better, with about a 60 percent decrease in crime from 2004 to 2013. It even scored safer than the national average in 2011.
There Are Always Problem Spots
Of course, not every state fared so well over the decade. New Mexico got more dangerous from 2004 to 2013, by about 20 percent. Arkansas also went from somewhat dangerous to very dangerous, with a 47 percent increase in crime by 2013.
Although some places stayed generally safe, there were a few spots trending towards the more dangerous side of things. South Dakota in particular declined over the last decade, though it still remained quite safe, with a 52 percent increase in crime. North Dakota saw a similar trend.
New York, also often thought of as dangerous despite its generally safe stats, also started the decade on a high note with many fewer crimes than the national average in 2004, but has seen a slight decline, with about a 30 percent rise in crime by 2013.
The Ups And The Downs
Interestingly enough, there were a few states that had a bit of a rollercoaster ride when it came to stats.
One of the most fascinating was Washington, which had high crime in 2004, improved to having much less crime in 2008, and had much more crime in 2013. Utah did something similar, with their low crime year being in 2010.
Oregon actually managed to score below the national average in crime in 2009, despite having over the national average in every other year, many times by a long shot. Michigan even jumped between having more crime than average and less crime than average every few years.
The Times They Are A-Changing
As the maps show, crime rates don’t stay steady in most states. A place that is dangerous now might be one of the safer places in only a decade. Who knows what the next 10 years will hold?
No matter the reason for these changes, we understand that safety is an important part of choosing a place to live. We sell houses, after all, and we might just know a place or two that’s safe enough to suit your comfort level when picking your next home.
In order to create this ranking, we turned to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for every year in the last decade (2004-2013). We collected all reported crimes for each state, and then calculated how many crimes that would be per 100,000 people.
From there, we averaged each years crimes together to find a national average (we excluded Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico). We then found how much higher or lower each state’s crimes were as compared to the national average each year.
Lastly, we color coded each state, red for more crime, green for less crime, in order to create the heat map you see above. Through that, you can compare years side by side to see which places were the most dangerous, and to see how things have changed over the years.