Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century, according to research complied by the Pew Research Center. There are two commonly cited measures of the nation’s crime rate. One is an annual report by the FBI of serious crimes reported to police in approximately 18,000 jurisdictions around the country. The other is an annual survey of more than 90,000 households conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which asks Americans ages 12 and older whether they were the victims of crime in the past six months (regardless of whether they reported those crimes to the police or not). Both the FBI and BJS data show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since its peak in the early 1990s.
Using the FBI numbers, the rate fell 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, the most recent full year available. Using the BJS data, the rate fell by 77 percent during that span. It’s important to note, however, that the FBI reported a 3 percent increase in the violent crime rate between 2014 and 2015, including a 10 percent increase in the murder rate. (The BJS figures show a stable violent crime rate between 2014 and 2015, but they do not count murders.) Some experts have projected that the 2016 FBI data will show another increase in the violent crime rate – including another rise in the murder rate – when they are released later this year.
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