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In spite of improving crime rate, Birmingham still 10th most dangerous U.S. city


According to data from the FBI, the violent crime rate in America dropped 4.4% in 2013. That might not sound like a lot, but John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told financial website 24/7 Wall Street that those numbers are nothing to scoff at.

“A 4.4% reduction in violent crime is astonishing,” Roman said. “If you saw a similar increase in GDP, or a similar decrease in unemployment, it would be huge national news.”

So there’s the good news.

However, while violent crimes are declining, large metropolitan areas are still struggling with high crime rates. Last year there were 368 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the country; when it comes to the most dangerous cities in America, that number nearly quadruples to more than 1,300 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

Using data from the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall Street identified the 10 most dangerous cities with populations greater than 100,000 in the country.

“The data were broken into eight types of crime,” says 24/7 Wall Street. “Violent crime was comprised of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; and, property crime was was made up of burglary, arson, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.” The website also used data from the 2013 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to look at factors like household income, poverty and education.

Birmingham, Alabama, was named the 10th most dangerous city in the country. Here’s the data breakdown:


More than half of the violent crimes in Birmingham were reportedly aggravated assault.

But Birmingham’s high crime rate–like those of other cities around the country–does not exist in a vacuum. It exists alongside other problems in the community.

Birmingham’s poverty rate in 2013 was 30.7%, much higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. The city’s median household income in 2013 was more than $20,000 less than the national median household income. And, as 24/7 Wall Street notes, “Just 25.9% of Birmingham residents had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, well below the national rate of 29.6%.”

All of these issues are connected.

Birmingham may be one of the most dangerous cities in the country, but it’s actually seeing a decrease in violent crime overall. In 2011 there were 57 homicides in Birmingham–this was the lowest number since 1966. In July al.com reported that there was a stretch of 31 days when Birmingham was murder free. “It’s not the longest stretch for Birmingham without a slaying, but it comes close,” said Carol Robinson.

2014 looks promising for Birmingham.

“The city’s homicide rate for the first half of the year dropped by more than a third over the first half of 2013,” said Robinson. “If the pace continues, Birmingham will end the year with the fewest murders since at least 1959.”

It’s also important to put these numbers in context.

What separates Birmingham–the 10th most dangerous city in America–from Detroit, Michigan, the most dangerous city in America?

Detroit’s violent crime rate in 2013 was 2,072 per 100,000 residents, almost 65% higher than Birmingham’s. The poverty rate in Detroit is a full 10 percentage points higher than that of Birmingham, as well.

Here is the complete list of the 10 most dangerous cities in America:

1. Detroit, Michigan

2. Oakland, California

3. Memphis, Tennessee

4. St. Louis, Missouri

5. Cleveland, Ohio

6. Little Rock, Arkansas

7. Baltimore, Maryland

8. Rockford, Illinois

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

10. Birmingham, Alabama

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