Murder totals rose across the U.S. last year at the fastest pace since 1990, according to data released by the FBI yesterday. There were an estimated 15,696 murders in 2015, 1,532 more than in 2014 and the most recorded in a calendar year since 2008, reports Fivethirtyeight.com. The report provides the first reliable, nationwide figures on an issue that has emerged as a major topic in this year’s presidential campaign. The rate of other forms of crime, including violent crime, remained near the historic lows achieved in 2013.
The increase in murder was remarkably widespread. Of the 82 cities with populations over 250,000 in 2014 or 2015, 52 experienced a rise in murder last year; murder fell in only 26. (Four cities stayed the same.) Murder rose by double digits in 29 big cities last year while dropping by double digits in just four of them. Three cities (Indianapolis, Louisville, and Omaha) more murders in 2015 than in any of the last 40 years. Murder rose in cities run by both political parties. Murder rose in 63 percent of the big cities with a Democratic mayor (33 of 52) and 85 percent of those led by a Republican (17 of 20); the two sets of cities saw murders rise at roughly the same pace. The increase pushed the murder rate — the number of killings per 100,000 people — up to 4.9, from 4.4 in 2014. That came after nearly two decades of continuous decline in the national murder rate; 2014’s murder rate was the lowest since the FBI began keeping the statistic in 1960.