A new analysis of FBI data places Springfield, Mo. as the 5th most dangerous metro area in the country.
The analysis, conducted by SafeWise.com, looks at violent crime and property crime rates as reported by cities to the FBI. SafeWise noted crime reporting to the FBI is voluntary and so cities with incomplete data were excluded.
At the top of the list of the 10 most dangerous metro areas was Anchorage, Ak.; at number 10 is Bakersfield, Ca. Three California metro areas made the list.
SafeWise opted to look at metro areas rather than just cities, as they explain:
When it comes to looking at crime rates and trends across the most populous areas of the US, we decided it made more sense to compare metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) instead of standalone big cities. MSAs include both major “anchor” cities and the outlying communities that have high social and economic integration with the anchor city. So combining them paints a more accurate picture of both crime and the socioeconomic factors that impact the quality of life for residents.
SafeWise used violent crime and property crime as defined by the FBI, since they were using the FBI's numbers. "Violent crimes" include aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery; "property crimes" include burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. The FBI excludes arson from their property crimes reporting.
"We know that crime statistics are only one measure of what makes any community safe," SafeWise stated on their methodology page. The website pointed to some related data, contrasting numbers of the most dangerous cities with the national average:
People in these metros are more likely to live below the poverty line.
- The percentage of people in the most dangerous metros who live below the poverty line is 27% higher than the US average.
Salaries in these metros are lower than the national average.
- On average, households in the most dangerous cities bring in nearly $20,000 less than households in the safest metro areas.
- San Francisco and Anchorage are the exceptions, with annual median household incomes of $130,000 and $80,000 respectively.
These metros spend less on public safety than the safest cities ranked.
- The most dangerous metros spend around 15% less on public safety than the safest big cities.
These metros spend less on community services than the safest cities ranked.
- The percentage of city budgets dedicated to community resources in the most dangerous metros is 58% lower than what’s allocated in the safest big cities.
These metros have fewer high school graduates than the average American city.
- The most dangerous metros have about 2.5% fewer high school grads than most US cities.
These metros have higher unemployment rates than the average American city.
- The average unemployment rate among the most dangerous metros (6.9%) is nearly two percentage points higher than in the safest metros (5.0%)
And despite the bad news for those metro areas, the good news is violent crime has dropped over the past year. SafeWise writes:
Crime rates in both the safest and most dangerous metros saw bigger drops year over year than the nation did overall. During a time where homicides and gun violence seem to be on the rise, this is good news.
Year over year, the violent crime rate in the US held steady at 3.7 incidents per 1,000 people. But in the most dangerous metros, violent crime fell 6%, from 8.4 incidents per 1,000 to 7.9.
Interestingly, most of the "most dangerous" cities saw population growth between 2010–2019. (Note: SafeWise population data does not include the dramatic moves that took place in 2020-2021 during the Covid pandemic and shutdowns.) SafeWise writes:
Higher crime rates don’t seem to be keeping people away from the metro areas that report the most crimes per capita. Only four of the cities on our list saw net drops in population between 2010 and 2019. And a full 60% of our list saw net gains that outpace the number of folks moving to the safest metro areas.
Here's SafeWise's list of the 10 Most Dangerous Cities (Metro Areas) for 2021:
1. Anchorage, Alaska
2. Memphis, Tennessee Mississippi-Arkansas
3. Lubbock, Texas
4. Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Michigan
5. Springfield, Missouri
6. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, California
7. Corpus Christi, Texas
8. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
9. Stockton, California
10. Bakersfield, California
And here's SafeWise's list of the 10 Safest Cities:
1. Rockingham County-Strafford County, New Hampshire
2. Provo-Orem, Utah
3. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Massachusetts
4. Portland-South Portland, Maine
5. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Michigan
6. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York
7. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
8. Green Bay, Wisconsin
9. Naples-Marco Island, Florida
10. Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, Maryland