Posted on February 2, 2021

America’s Murder Rate Increase in 2020 Has ‘No Modern Precedent’

Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, February 1, 2021

Murder rates saw a “historic” increase in 2020 compared to 2019, with more than 1,200 additional killings year-over-year in a sample of 34 American cities, according to a study released Monday.

“The coronavirus pandemic, continuing incidents of police violence, and rising homicide and violent crime rates each pose massive policy challenges in their own right, but the interplay between them creates even more difficult decisions for policymakers,” states a report from the National Commission of COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ). “Despite this difficulty, leaders at all levels of government should take bold action in responding to all three crises.”

Homicide rates jumped by 30% from 2019 to 2020, while gun assault and aggravated assault rates climbed 8% and 6%, respectively, experts found.

“Homicide rates were higher during every month of 2020 relative to rates from the previous year,” the report states, calling the 30% surge “a large and troubling increase that has no modern precedent.”

Experts analyzed the data from as many as 34 U.S. cities, which varied in size and population, for year-over-year changes in 10 different areas of crime for the year-end update of an NCCCJ report called Pandemic, Unrest, Crime, and Violence in U.S. Cities. In addition to the three offenses listed above, the report examined the rates of domestic violence, robbery, residential burglary, nonresidential burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and drug offenses.

The rates of homicides, motor vehicle thefts, gun assaults and aggravated assaults rose year-over-year. Meanwhile, those related to drug offenses, larcenies, nonresidential burglaries, residential burglaries and robberies all decreased during the pandemic and during the year as a whole compared to 2019, analysts found.


The average population of the cities whose homicide rates were examined was 978,000, but the cities range in size. The largest city in the sample, New York, boasts a population of approximately 8.42 million people, while the smallest, Norfolk, Va., has 245,000 residents, the report states.

Analysts examined cities’ aggravated assault rates to find that they were, on average, just over 6% higher than in 2019, with 6,741 more instances in 2020 than the year prior. Meanwhile, experts reviewed the gun assault data for 15 cities and found that the rate climbed nearly 8%, with 3,557 more offenses.


Analysts found that homicide rates, like most of the other crimes examined, follow a “clear cyclical pattern” over time – rising during the summer months and falling in the autumn and winter. But in 2020, murder rates “exceeded previous rates throughout the entire year.”


January and February 2020 saw a combined homicide rate increase of 32.5% compared to the same time in 2019. March through May saw a 19.4% surge, while June through August experienced a 37.2% rate increase and September through December reported a 28.2% spike year-over-year.

Analysts found that the pandemic likely “temporarily suppressed” some murders because it limited “opportunities for offenders and victims to interact.” {snip}


Analysts also noted a “precipitous rise” in murders during the emergence of civil unrest and protests following George Floyd’s death but added: “the connection between police violence, protests and social unrest, and heightened community violence remains uncertain.” {snip}