Last year’s dramatic rise in the national murder total appears to be continuing in 2016, but this year’s rise so far is slower than last year’s and is more concentrated in a few big cities, crime analyst Jeff Asher writes on FiveThirtyEight.com. Last month, the FBI released data showing that the estimated number of murders rose 10.8 percent nationwide last year. Preliminary evidence suggests that the number of murders is up about 10.5 percent so far this year in big cities for which data is available; last year, the number went up 14.7 percent in that same group of cities, Asher says.
So far, the 2016 increase appears concentrated in just a few big cities. Chicago, in particular, has reported a dramatic rise in the number of murders; through early October, the city counted 536, up from 378 at the same time a year ago, a 42 percent increase. Orlando has also seen a big jump in murders, due largely to the Pulse nightclub attack that killed 49 people in June. Together, Chicago and Orlando account for close to half of the net increase in murders in cities for which data is available. Excluding those two cities, murder would be up 6.3 percent this year in the remaining big cities in Asher’s data set. Meanwhile, several cities, including Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, have seen substantial decreases in the number of murders so far this year after experiencing large rises in 2015. Seven of the 15 cities that saw the greatest rise in the number of murders in 2016 are in the Southwest. That’s a big switch from a year ago, when the worst big-city rises were spread relatively evenly across the U.S.