There was a nearly 30 percent rise in murder in 2020, with more than 21,500 cases reported in the year, according to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report.
The total was up from 16,669 in 2019, according to the FBI, and is one of the sharpest increases in murder in several years. The national homicide rate, 6.5 per 100,000 people, is still lower than it was during much of the 1990s.
“That’s an unprecedented one-year rise,” said Richard Rosenfeld, criminology professor at the University of Missouri — Saint Louis.
The FBI report does not list reasons for the violence. Experts have said it is difficult to pinpoint the cause of the killings nationwide, with factors including gun ownership and the pandemic possibly playing a part.
“I don’t think we know for sure,” Rosenfeld said. “We don’t have definitive answers.”
Violent crime, which includes homicide, rape and aggravated assault among other crimes, also was up in the year. The rate of violent crime spiked about 5 percent to 398.5 incidents per 100,000 people, according to FBI data.
There were 243,600 robberies last year, or 73.9 per 100,000 people, as the number continued to decline from 2016, FBI data shows. The majority of those crimes, which showed a decrease from 268,483 in 2019, occurred along streets and highways. Others took place at gas stations, convenience stores, banks and homes.
Burglaries, too, have been on a years-long decline, the FBI reported. Last year, there were 1,035,314 reported burglaries, or 314.2 per 100,000 people, down from 1,118,096 in 2019.
More than 126,400 rapes were reported in 2020, a decline from the 143,224 reported in 2019, representing the lowest number since 2017, FBI data shows.
Property crimes appeared to be a bright spot in the report with the number dropping for 18 straight years, the FBI said.
Victims of property crimes, excluding arson, lost an estimated $17.5 billion in 2020, the FBI said.
“Overall, it’s a mixed bag of results,” Rosenfeld said. “Homicides are way up, but property crime is down, robberies are down and violent crime is up slightly.”
The figures were reported by 39,964 law enforcement agencies covering 53 percent of the population.