Even More Evidence That Murder Fell Nationally in 2022
Data from individual states points provides even stronger evidence of 2022's murder decline
A disclaimer to begin — I initially titled this post “What To Expect When You’re Expecting UCR Data”, but then the analytic voice in my head kicked in and reminded me to write a title that portrays a point. Anyhow, I was perusing state UCR websites — as one does — and realized that most states have already released 2022 crime data which gives stronger hints about the upcoming FBI data release.
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We are a few weeks away from NIBRS 2022 being released which will make this post moot, but until then these data points can serve as even stronger evidence that murder fell last year.
There are 29 states that have published data on murder for the last two full calendar years, and murder was down in 17 of them in 2022 compared to 2021. Murder fell 5.1 percent overall in those 29 states. Data is available for all but one of the five most populous states (looking at you, Florida), and murder fell in all four of those states. (UPDATE: A reader noted that my numbers for New York were inaccurate because I was using a data source that was duplicating New York City’s figures. The below table has been updated to reflect the state UCR program’s figures. There was no change in New York’s percent change but the overall national change declined from -5.3 percent to -5.1 percent. UPDATE 2: A reader noted that Mississippi’s count did not include Jackson and a few other non-NIBRS agencies. Murder fell at roughly the same clip in Jackson so I’m going to leave the MS count untouched in the table but noting for the record).
Having data from these 29 states has historically been a very strong indicator of the national trend in terms of murder. This group of states correctly predicted the national trend direction in 30 of the 31 years between 1990 and 2020 with the only miss coming in 2002 when murder rose 1.2 percent nationally but was down 0.2 percent in this group of states.
Moreover, the misses have typically been very close. Having 100 big cities of data will usually get you within 3 to 4 percent of the national trend, but the average absolute miss for these states since 1990 has been just 1.3 percent. While big cities tend to overstate the national trend, this collection of states is more of a mixed bag in terms of over or understating the trend. In other words, a 5 percent decline in these states is just as likely to be a harbinger of a 6.5 percent decline nationally as it is a 3.5 percent decline.
All told, this data should provide additional confidence in the assessment that murder fell nationally last year even if it was much higher than it was in 2019. A 2 to 4 percent decline nationally makes the most sense, but complete data from this sample of states suggests the decline could have been even larger. Combining this data with the large decline in cities with available data in 2023 points to a very positive trend though one with always a way to go.
Some day we won’t be having to read a random assortment of tea leaves to understand national crime trends 9 months after the previous year ended, but until that day this is the best we can do.