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10 Most Dangerous Cities in America for 2020

Written by | Updated August 5, 2020

Find out which metro areas reported the fewest crimes in our Safest Metro Areas report.

map showing the 10 most dangerous and 10 safest metro areas in America

Everyone wants to feel safe at home, but what if your city reports more crimes than other cities?

Does that mean your town or neighborhood is dangerous?

This is a complicated subject, and it’s one we’ve tried to examine for years. Today’s high current of civil unrest makes these questions more vital than ever. As part of our commitment to provide the most helpful and relevant information in our reports, we’ve made some changes this year.

You’ll find a deeper analysis of multiple factors that impact life in the metro communities that report the highest numbers of crime incidents.

For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.

Here are the 10 most dangerous metro areas in America for 2020

  1. Anchorage, Alaska
  2. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  3. Memphis, Tennessee
  4. Wichita, Kansas
  5. Lubbock, Texas
  6. Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Michigan
  7. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington
  8. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
  9. Corpus Christi, Texas
  10. Mobile, Alabama

Find out the statistics for every metro area that made our list.

What these rankings mean

To determine the rankings for the most “dangerous” metro cities in America, we started with the most current FBI crime reports. This data isn’t flawless—it’s self reported by law enforcement agencies—but it’s the most extensive crime data available.

We calculated both violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents in each metro area. Both rates were used to rank the cities. Metro areas with the highest collective violent and property crime rates landed at the bottom of the overall list, making them part of our most “dangerous” rankings. Cities with the lowest crime rates rose to the top and made it onto our “safest” metro cities list.

Read our complete safest cities reporting methodology.

A snapshot of the most dangerous metro cities in America

Crime statistics are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to considering how “safe” or “dangerous” a community is.To add more depth to our examination of each metro area that ranked in the top 10 for high crime rates, we researched several additional factors:

  • Median income and poverty data¹
  • High school graduation rates¹
  • Redlining practices²
  • Household access to high-speed internet³
  • City budget allocations⁴
    Unemployment rates⁵

We chose these data points because we’ve noticed a correlation between socioeconomic factors and reported crime rates. To see if our observations have been on the mark, we dove into metrics that help paint a picture of the general socioeconomic climate of each metro area we ranked.

In addition to crime statistics, we looked at things like household income, access to resources like internet service, and city budget allocations.
This supplemental data wasn’t used for ranking purposes. We used it to help provide a more holistic view of the metro areas that landed on our listings.

And even though added context doesn’t tell us everything about these cities, it offers a starting point to help us compare and contrast trends in communities that consistently report low or high crime numbers.

Graphic with violent crime rates for most dangerous metros, 8.4/1,00 vs. 3.7/1,000 in the rest of the country
Graphic with property crime rates for most dangerous metros, 40.1/1,000 vs. 22/1,000 for the rest of the US

Interesting findings

  • Median income: 90% of the most dangerous metros report a median household income below the national average of $61,937. The average median income among the most dangerous metro cities is 87% lower than the national average, coming in at $54,189 annually.
  • Poverty line: Among the cities on our list, there’s an average of 16.3% who are living below the poverty line. And 80% of these metros are above the national average (13.1%) for people who live beneath the poverty line.
  • An outlier: Anchorage, Alaska—the city that reported the highest crime rates—has a median household income that’s 130% higher than the national average of $61,937. Anchorage also has a lower number of people living below the poverty line (9.6%, compared to the national average of 13.1%).
Graphic with median income data for the safest and most dangerous metros vs. the national average.
  • Redlining: Just over half the metro cities on our list have a known history of redlining—an action that directly impacts the resources available to people who live in areas that have been deemed “bad neighborhoods.”
  • Internet access: 70% of these metros have less access to high speed internet than the national average. Nationwide, 69.6% of households have high-speed internet access, compared to an average of 63.6% among the most dangerous cities. In Shreveport, only 46.2% of households have internet access.
  • Graduation rates: 60% of the most dangerous metro cities produce fewer high school graduates than the national average of 88.3%. Among the safest metros, that number drops to 40%.
  • Free and reduced lunch:⁶ 90% of the most dangerous cities on our list report a higher number of economically disadvantaged students than the national average of 52.1%—the safest metros match that 90% stat as well.
Graphic showing city budget allocations for police vs. community services in the safest and most dangerous metros
  • City budgets: On average, about 23% of city budgets are allocated to police and public safety in the most dangerous metros—that’s about 10 points behind the safest metro cities. The safest cities also commit three times more money to community services (9%) than in most dangerous cities (3%).
  • Violent crime rates: Every dangerous metro area reported higher crime rates than the national averages for both property and violent crime. On average, these metros saw 8.4 violent crime incidents per 1,000 people, compared to 3.7 nationwide.
  • Property crime rates: All of the most dangerous metro cities had more property crimes per 1,000 residents than the national average of 22.0. On average, there were 40.1 property crimes per 1,000—that’s almost two times more than the rest of the country.

The 10 most dangerous metro areas in America

We’ve assembled the data we gathered in our research into three tables below. For quick comparison among the cities, we grouped together similar factors such as crime rates, economic information, and access to resources.

Crime rates in the most dangerous metros

2020 rankMetro areaMetro populationViolent crime per 1,000Property crime per 1,0002019 rank
National average888,5423.722.0
1Anchorage, AK309,91712.650.2New
2Albuquerque, NM915,46810.945.38
3Memphis, TN1,343,00211.442.74
4Wichita, KS638,1358.242.343
5Lubbock, TX319,7958.339.6New
6Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI1,748,51110.027.12
7Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA558,2984.443.8New
8Shreveport-Bossier City, LA397,9656.037.4New
9Corpus Christi, TX430,7317.033.732
10Mobile, AL430,3355.338.9New

Crime rates in the safest metros

2020 rankMetro areaMetro populationViolent crime per 1,000Property crime per 1,0002019 rank
National average888,5423.722.0
1Provo-Orem, UT633,1130.913.6New
2Lancaster, PA545,6571.811.2New
3Portland-South Portland, ME535,2241.213.3New

Compare to the full list of the safest metro areas.

Income and education in the most dangerous metros

2020 rankMetro areaMedian income% below poverty lineAnnual unemployment rate (BLS) 2018% high school graduates% economically disadvantaged students
National average$61,93713.1%3.9%88.3%52.1%
1Anchorage, AK$81,0379.6%5.9%94.2%53.0%
2Albuquerque, NM$51,13416.3%4.6%88.4%68.2%
3Memphis, TN$50,33818.8%4.2%88.0%58.9%
4Wichita, KS$51,05115.1%3.6%87.9%76.5%
5Lubbock, TX$49,97418.1%3.1%86.2%71.9%
6Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI$60,51314.3%4.3%90.2%81.5%
7Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA$58,54612.9%5.5%93.4%57.2%
8Shreveport-Bossier City, LA$41,96920.4%5.2%86.9%71.4%
9Corpus Christi, TX$54,26416.6%4.9%82.6%68.1%
10Mobile, AL$43,06120.8%4.6%85.8%51.6%

Income and education in the safest metros

2020 rankMetro areaMedian income% below poverty lineAnnual unemployment rate (BLS) 2018% high school graduates% economically disadvantaged students
National average$61,93713.1%3.9%88.3%52.1%
1Provo-Orem, UT$75,3449.3%2.8%94.4%39.2%
2Lancaster, PA$66,2777.6%3.4%84.9%90.9%
3Portland-South Portland, ME$69,9808.4%Insufficient data95.2%53.0%

Compare to the full list of the safest metro areas.

City budgets and community resources in the most dangerous cities

2020 rankMetro area% households with high-speed internet access% city budget for public safety/police% city budget for community services
National average69.6%Not availableNot available
1Anchorage, AK77.1%22.6%2.1%
2Albuquerque, NM64.6%18.5%8.2%
3Memphis, TN57.8%38.3%0.7%
4Wichita, KS68.7%15.1%3.7%
5Lubbock, TX62.8%16.4%2.8%
6Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI70.5%15.5%3.8%
7Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA71.6%30.7%0.2%
8Shreveport-Bossier City, LA46.2%12.0%4.2%
9Corpus Christi, TX64.7%29.9%1.4%
10Mobile, AL51.5%35.5%2.3%

City budgets and community resources in the safest metros

2020 rankMetro area% households with high-speed internet access% city budget for public safety/police% city budget for community services
National average69.6%Not availableNot available
1Provo-Orem, UT78.4%27.3%2.6%
2Lancaster, PA69.8%42.9%6.6%
3Portland-South Portland, ME79.1%8.6%7.4%

Compare to the full list of the safest metro areas.

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether your city made our list or not, we recommend being proactive about protecting your home and family. One of the best ways to stop a burglary before it happens is to add a home security system.

We have home security options for nearly every budget, including self-monitored systems with no monthly fees and professionally monitored systems starting as low as $10 per month.

To learn more about your home security options, check out our picks for Best Home Security Systems.

Find the safest cities in each state 

Click on the state image below to check out the safest cities for each state—and find out how people in your state feel about crime and safety in our 2020 State of Safety report.

Endnotes

Note: In most cases, data represented is for the most populous city within the metro area. We selected the largest city within the area as a representative sample of the entire metro area and refer to these as “anchor” cities.

1. Median income, poverty line, and high school graduation statistics

US Census Bureau (2018), “American Community Survey 1-year estimates,” Retrieved from Census Reporter Profile page for each metro area. Accessed July 7, 2020.

2. Redlining statistics

Mapping Inequality, “Redlining in New Deal America,” Retrieved from Mapping Inequality search page for the anchor city in each metro area. Accessed July 7, 2020.

3. Household access to high speed internet

US Census Bureau (2018), “American Community Survey 1-year estimates,” Retrieved from QuickFacts page for each metro area or anchor city. Accessed July 7, 2020.

4. City budget allocations

City of Anchorage, “2019 Proposed General Governmental Operating Budget,” Retrieved from Table 1 on page 11 – 4, line items “Police” and “Economic & Community Development.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Albuquerque, “Fiscal Year 2020 Approved Budget,” Retrieved from FY/20 Approved Budget graph on second page, line items “Public Safety” and “Community and Cultural Engagement.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Memphis, “FY2020 Adopted Operating Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditures, FY2020 Adopted Budget Expenditures graph, page 114, line items “Police” and “Housing & Community Development.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Wichita, “2020–2021 Adopted Budget, Vol. 1”, Retrieved from Housing & Community Services Department, page 164, line item 2020 Adopted Total Expenditures and Police Department, page 230, line item 2020 Adopted Total Expenditures. Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Lubbock, “Adopted Operating Budget & Capital Program FY19–20 / Volume 1,” Retrieved from FY2019–20 Summary of All Expenses graph, page 29, line items “Public Safety” and “Cultural & Recreation Services” plus “Development Services.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Detroit, “Four-Year Financial Plan FY 2019–2022,” Retrieved from F Y2019–FY 2022 Expenditures ad Revenues by Agency Table, page A33, column FY2018–19, line items “Police” and “Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity” plus “Housing & Revitalization.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Spokane, “2020 Adopted Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Revenues & Expenditures, page 4, line items “Police” and “Community & Neighborhood Svcs Division,” December 2019. Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Shreveport, “2020 Annual Operating Budget,” Retrieved from Expenditure Detail by Department, page 51, column 2020 Budget, line item “Total Police Department,” and Community Development Special Revenue Fund, Expenditure Detail, page 360 column 2020 Budget, line item “Grand Total Expenses.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Corpus Christi, “Proposed FY 2019–2020 Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Summary, page 31, column Proposed Budget 2019–2020, line items “Police” and “Health” plus “Housing and Community Development.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

City of Mobile, “Annual Budget Fiscal Year 2019,” Retrieved from General Fund Budget Summary, page 1, column FY2019 Proposed Budget, line items “Public Safety” and “Neighborhood Services” plus “Civic Engagement,” August 2018. Accessed July 8, 2020.

Provo City Corporation, “Provo City Adopted Budget FY 2021,” Retrieved from General Fund Summary on page 32, line items “Police” and “Comm & Neighborhood Srvcs” for FY2021. Accessed July 7, 2020.

City of Lancaster, “Adopted 2019 Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditure Summary on pages 2–3, line items “Public Safety” and “Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization for 2019 budget. Accessed July 7, 2020.

City of Portland, “Municipal Budget July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020,” Retrieved from FY20 General Fund Expenditures graph on page 23, line items “Public Safety” and “Health & Human Services.” Accessed July 7, 2020.

5. Unemployment rates

US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Unemployment Rates for Metropolitan Areas, Annual Averages,” 2018. Accessed July 7, 2020.

6. Free and reduced lunch statistics

National Center for Education Statistics, “Concentration of Public School Students Eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch,” May 2020. Accessed July 7, 2020. 

Anchorage School District, “Current Verified Student Enrollment for 2019-2020,” Retrieved from Detailed Enrollment, Current verified student enrollment by subgroup, May 2020. Accessed July 8, 2020.

Albuquerque Public Schools, “About APS,” retrieved from Student Statistics. Accessed July 8, 2020.  

Shelby County Schools, “District Budget Fiscal Year 2019–2020,” Retrieved from Executive Summary, page 4. Accessed July 8, 2020.

Wichita Public Schools, “2019–2020 District Snapshot,” Retrieved from Overcoming Obstacles, students from homes of poverty. Accessed July 8, 2020.

Lubbock School District, “Demographics of Lubbock ISD,” October 2019. Accessed July 8, 2020.

Michigan School Data, “Student Counts, Detroit Public Schools Community District, School Year 2019-20, Economically Disadvantaged.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

Spokane Public Schools, “District Data, Demographics, Socio Economic Status.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

Louisiana Department of Education, “Student Attributes, Feb 2020 Multi stats, Caddo Parish.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

Texas Education Agency, “2019–2020 Economically disadvantaged Students, Corpus Christi ISD.” Accessed July 8, 2020.

National Center for Education Statistics, “Digest of Education Statistics, Table 204.10 Number and percentage of public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, by state: Selected years, 2000–01 through 2016–17,” Retrieved from column 2016–17. Note: Data is for the entire state of Alabama. District-level information was not available.

Provo.edu, “UTREx Report–School Summary,” Provo District LEA Totals, page 43. July 2019. Accessed July 7, 2020.

Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Public Schools Percent of Low-Income Reports,” Retrieved from 2018–2019 Public Schools Percent Low Income, 1819 LIP by LEA, Lancaster SD Percentage of Low Income Families. Accessed on July 7, 2020.

Portland Public Schools, “District Fast Facts 2019–2020.” Accessed July 7, 2020.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more

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