Is Crime Getting Better or Worse? We Don’t Really Know.
Philadelphia residents are bemoaning the closure of two iconic WaWa convenience stores, largely as a result of “continued safety and security challenges,” according to the Pennsylvania company. Illustrating those concerns is dramatic security video footage of roughly 100 teens ransacking a store last month, and that was just one recent incident.
Philadelphians are far from alone in their concerns; after decades of improvement, crime has reemerged as an issue amidst a widespread sense of increasing danger. But there’s a catch: because of changes in methodology, crime statistics are less reliable than in the past. That leaves us working from limited information.
“Inflation, crime, and immigration are the top self-stated voter issues heading into the midterms,” according to a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released last week. Inflation ranked as “very important” with 74 percent of respondents, 68 percent said the same of crime, followed by immigration at 59 percent.
Most polls produce similar results, with inflation and the economy as the top concerns, and crime weighing heavily on voters’ minds. But, in some places, crime has pushed into the lead.
“Asked to choose the most urgent issue facing New York State today, crime (28 percent) ranks first among likely voters followed by inflation (20 percent) and protecting democracy (14 percent),” the Quinnipiac Poll found last week.
Well beyond the looting of urban convenience stores, crime obviously worries Americans. The data seems to support those fears.
“The FBI’s crime statistics for 2021 confirm that violent crime continued to be a major issue in the United States, remaining at or near the 2020 level which saw a 5.6 percent increase compared to 2019,” the FBI reported earlier this month. “Murder and non-negligent manslaughter recorded a nationwide increase of 29.4 percent in 2020. … Overall, the analysis shows violent and property crime remained consistent between 2020 and 2021.”
Rising crime is always a concern, and it’s especially so when it reverses expectations. As recently as September 2019, the FBI boasted of declining violent and property crime, which steadily fell for decades.
“Both the FBI and BJS data show dramatic declines in U.S. violent and property crime rates since the early 1990s, when crime spiked across much of the nation,” Pew Research noted in 2020.
Why the unfortunate turnaround? Social scientists will likely be building careers on that question. It’s worth pointing out that high unemployment and stagnant econ
Article from Reason.com