Discover more from Jeff-alytics
Murder Fell 6 Percent in 2022 And Other 2022 Crime Report Nuggets
Some initial thoughts on the FBI's 2022 Uniform Crime Report.
The FBI released its annual report on crime today providing the most comprehensive accounting of reported crime nationally last year. This year’s report comes on the heels of last year’s troublesome report which was made using complete data from around 60 percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Thanks for reading Jeff-alytics! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
This year’s report is far improved because the FBI allowed non-NIBRS agencies to report basic crime statistics to inform the national estimates. There is always a ton to digest from these reports (plus I’m traveling today), so I’ll have another post up later digging deep into other aspects of crime in the US.
For now, here are some initial scattershot takeaways that I found:
Murders fell 6.1 percent in 2022 after rising considerably in 2020 and 2021. This isn’t news for Jeff-alytics followers who may remember my writing on this a few times (like here and here). Still, now we can put a formal figure on the change in murder last year. The decline in murder in 2022 puts the nation’s murder rate below where it stood in 2020 (down about -3 percent), about 20 percent above where it was in 2019, and 35 percent below where it was in 1991. This year’s decline was the largest one-year percent decline since 2009 and the largest one-year decline in total murders since 1999. (UPDATE: I hadn’t initially noticed that the FBI increased 2020’s murder tally in this year’s report. The graphs have been updated to reflect that increase).
The decline in murder was slightly larger than expected as our sample of 93 cities had murder down 5 percent in 2022 relative to 2021. Big cities tend to overstate national trends, but the thing about something that tends to go one way is that sometimes it doesn't. It's a good problem to have in this case!
Last year's decline was the 10th largest one-year percent decline ever reported (data back to 1960). There is an even bigger decline still set in store for 2023 with murder down around 12 percent in 167 cities with available data this year.
Reported violent crime fell 1.7 percent with declines in murder, rape, and aggravated assault but a slight increase in robbery. The nation’s violent crime rate has remained largely flat over the last 12 years and those seeking to push the narrative of a violent crime wave in this country are badly out of step with the data.
Murder fell 18 percent in Louisiana and violent crime fell 6 percent there in 2022. Both trends far outpaced the national average.
Reported property crimes increased 7 percent driven by an 11 percent surge in auto thefts (thanks TikTok!) and an 8 percent increase in thefts driven by what I'm guessing was increased mobility in the wake of the pandemic phase of COVID ending for many Americans last year. Auto theft has risen by double-digits in three straight years with a fourth straight year seeming all but certain in 2023 (thanks again, TikTok!).
The 2022 report represented the largest one-year percent increase in reported property crimes since 1980 and broke a streak of 19 straight years with declining property crime. That said, the property crime rate in the US has fallen an astounding 61 percent since 1991 even accounting for the somewhat sizable increase in 2022. The change in the long term trend deserves a deeper dive to better understand what — if anything — it means in the big picture.
The FBI deserves kudos for avoiding a second disastrous NIBRS report by allowing agencies to report via SRS. The population covered by NIBRS agencies increased from less than 65 percent in 2021 to 77 percent in 2022. Critically, agencies covering nearly 17 percent of the US population reported via SRS meaning the national estimates involved data from around 94 percent of the country. That's slightly down from the olden days but not by much and means that the estimates this year are far more reliable than what was produced for 2021.
One thing I don’t like is a new part of the report estimating the number of “non-fatal gun violence” victims. This sounds like non-fatal shootings — which would be tremendous! — but is actually made up of all violent crimes with a gun that didn’t involve a fatal shooting. The overbroad definition means that a robbery with a gun or flashing a firearm in a threatening manner are both considered “non-fatal gun violence.” That means the metric is virtually useless for evaluating shootings where an individual was injured versus killed as those incidents are largely drowned out by other types of violent crimes. Moreover, the “non-fatal gun violence” figures are drawn strictly from NIBRS so the figures are far less accurate than the murder data which is drawn from both NIBRS and SRS.
I’m sure there are a ton of other important points to be learned from the new report that I’ll write on in time. All told, it is a positive crime report considering the massive increase in murder that was reported in both 2020 and 2021. Taken in context of 2023’s likely sizable decline suggests the US is in the midst of one of the largest two-year declines in murder ever reported.