Based on FBI data, Flint, Mich. has the highest violent crime rate in the country, topping a list of America's most dangerous cities for the third year in a row.
Reversing a trend of falling crime rates over the past few years, FBI data for 2012 shows a 1.2 percent nationwide increase in violent crime. The increase was greatest in large cities with high unemployment and low education levels.
Flint was followed by Detroit; Oakland, Calif.; St. Louis; Memphis; Stockton, Calif.; Birmingham; New Haven, Conn.; Baltimore; and Cleveland in the list compiled by 24/7 Wall St.
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Violent crime in Oakland increased 23 percent, with 90 percent of it due to gang violence, according to the city’s police chief, Howard Jordan.
The trend represents a dramatic reversal from years of decline in violent crimes, despite the recession.
The FBI classifies violent crime as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. In addition to suffering from a high rate of violent crime, Birmingham, St. Louis and Oakland also had among the nation’s highest property crime rates.
Regionally, the South, which is also the nation’s most populous region, accounted for 41.3 percent of violent crimes, with 22.9 percent coming from the West, 19.5 percent from the Midwest, and 16.2 percent from the Northeast, according to the FBI report.
Aggravated assault was the most frequent violent crime, accounting for 62.4 percent of the crimes reported.
Guns were used in 67.8 percent of murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults.
The cities plagued with violent crime have had sagging economies for years, even before the recession began, 24/7 Wall St. reports.
Many have lost large portions of their populations as those who were able to find jobs elsewhere moved away. Detroit, to cite one of the worst examples, shrank from 1.5 million residents in 1970 to 677,891 in 2012, though the population has finally started to stabilize. An exodus of skilled residents leaves the cities with a poorer, less skilled population base.
Poverty rates were sometimes twice as high as the national average of 15.9 percent for the cities on the list. Education levels were also lower, with less than 80 percent of residents holding a high school diploma, compared with 86 percent nationally, according to the data.
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