America’s meanest streets

March 13, 2018

Monroe, Louisiana, is the most dangerous city in the United States, according to a report released by the website, NeighborhoodScout, on March 6.

Filling out the rest of the top ten (from most dicey to least) for this year are Bessemer, Alabama; East St. Louis, Illinois; Camden, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan, St. Louis, Missouri; Wilmington, Delaware, Alexandria, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; and West Memphis, Arkansas.

The list of the top 100 most dangerous American cities compares the safety of municipalities with populations of 25,000 or more, based on the number of violent crimes (murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault) reported to the FBI to have occurred in each city, and the population of each city, divided by 1,000. This calculation provides a rate for violent crime per 1,000 residents—offering an accurate, normalized comparison of cities of different sizes.

Monroe is representative of a number of communities on the list: It is a medium-size city (population: 49,297) located about 100 miles away from two larger cities—Shreveport (population 194,920) to the west; and Jackson (population 169,148) to the east.

Compared to the rest of the nation, Monroe is lower-middle-income and has a high number of people living in poverty. The lack of a large business and economic center within decent commuting distance means that residents have difficulty finding well-paying jobs.

These factors contribute to the city’s above-average housing vacancy rate and low public school quality indices—which, in-turn, reduce economic activity and can make it challenging for a community to attract jobs that require high skills and pay good salaries. A similar scenario plays out in Chester, PennsylvaniaHomestead, Florida, and other medium-size communities nationwide.

“We continue to see a number of smaller, industrial-satellite communities struggle with crime,” said Dr.Andrew Schiller, CEO and Founder of Location, the parent company of  NeighborhoodScout. “Limited economic opportunity plays a role in such communities and highlights the divide between the safe bedroom communities within large metro areas near major urban centers like Boston, Chicago and New York, and the high-crime industrial-satellite communities.”

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