CRIMEU.S. Homicides and Violent Crime Overall Are Down Significantly, according to FBI Data

By Ian Thomsen

Published 3 July 2024

The U.S. is experiencing a significant decline nationally in homicides, according to FBI data – in fact, U.S. murders have been on the decrease for three decades, but Americans are generally not aware of the trend.

The U.S. is experiencing a significant decline nationally in homicides, according to FBI data.

Murder rates are also falling in many large cities, including Boston, which saw the largest drop of any major U.S. city in the first three months of 2024. 

As of June 10, Boston police reported four homicides in the city this year, compared to 18 at the same time one year ago.

The descending numbers are not an aberration, says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, who notes that U.S. murders have been on the decrease for three decades. And yet Americans are generally not aware of the trend, he says.

“National Gun Violence Awareness Month [currently ongoing] is an appropriate time for the public to become aware of the improvement,” says Fox, who has been studying murder for four decades. “But the word isn’t getting out.”

Homicides throughout the U.S. decreased by 26.4% overall in the first quarter of 2024, according to the FBI data, which was released on June 10. Violent crimes overall — including rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies — dropped by more than 15% in that span.

Fox says the murder rate in Boston is lower than most major U.S. cities for several reasons, including:

·  Massachusetts’ gun-ownership rate of 14%, which is the lowest in the U.S. and is complemented by some of the nation’s strongest gun laws.

·  A relatively cool climate. (Fox’s research shows that crime tends to spike in hot weather.)

·  A high number of emergency rooms and trauma centers in the city.

“It’s also true that Massachusetts has the highest percentage of well-educated people in the country,” adds Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern. “Educated people have been found to be less likely to commit homicide.”Jacob Stowell, a Northeastern associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, also credits Boston Mayor Michelle Wu for emphasizing crime reduction.

“There has been a lot more community involvement — a lot more stakeholders and folks at the table who should have been at the table for a long time,” Stowell says. “When you see big reductions like this, it’s the result of a confluence of factors, any one of which would be beneficial, which are operating in concert.”

Those factors are emerging in neighboring cities, Stowell adds.