The Cities Where Americans Don’t Feel Safe

by | April 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM | General

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By Alexander E.M. Hess, Michael B. Sauter and Samuel Weigley, 247WallSt.com

According to polling service Gallup, 72% of Americans surveyed in 2012 said they felt safe walking home at night. This is a slight uptick from 2011, when 71% of respondents said they felt safe.

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To determine the 10 metro areas where people felt most unsafe walking alone at night, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures from the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index for 2012. To determine how recorded crime rates actually aligned with citizen’s opinions of these areas, we also used figures published in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2011. Unemployment rates were obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for December 2012 and are seasonally adjusted. All figures covering poverty rates, education and income are from the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey.

These are the top 5 of 10 cities where people felt most unsafe walking alone at night:

5. Rockford, Ill.

  • Pct. feel safe at night: 54.3%
  • Violent crime rate: 706.5 per 100,000 people (11th highest)
  • Poverty rate: 18.2% (118th highest)
  • Pct. who always had money for food: 79.4% (42nd lowest)
  • Population: 353,722

Just 70.2% of Rockford residents were satisfied with where they live, one of the lowest rates in the country and below the 85.5% across the United States. The fact that Rockford residents do not feel safe may be justified. In 2012, there were 706.5 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, compared to 386.3 nationwide. This was among the highest violent crime rates in the country. The state’s robbery rate was 179.8 per 100,000 residents, among the top 20 across the country. The Rockford area has struggled economically due to a multidecade decline in manufacturing. In December 2012, the unemployment rate was 11.1%, among the highest of all metropolitan areas.

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4. Mobile, Ala.

  • Pct. feel safe at night: 51.3%
  • Violent crime rate: 608.2 per 100,000 people (29th highest)
  • Poverty rate: 19.4% (84th highest)
  • Pct. who always had money for food: 71.4% (3rd lowest)
  • Population: 411,721

There were 11.3 murders and voluntary manslaughters per 100,000 residents in Mobile in 2011, among the highest homicide rates in the country and considerably higher than the 4.7 homicides per 100,000 across the country. In addition, there were 215.4 robberies per 100,000 people, nearly double the robbery rate across the nation. Mobile also had one of the worst property crime rates. There were 4,807 property crimes per 100,000 residents in the metropolitan area, compared to approximately 2,909 across the United States. Mobile received the third lowest score for overall well-being from Gallup.

3. Yakima, Wash.

  • Pct. feel safe at night: 51.0%
  • Violent crime rate: 326.7 per 100,000 people (146th lowest)
  • Poverty rate: 22.9% (29th highest)
  • Pct. who always had money for food: 83.7% (64th highest)
  • Population: 243,231

Just over 78% of people in Yakima were satisfied with the city, lower than the 85.5% national rate. Like many cities where violent crime is high, Yakima had among the lowest high-school graduation rates in the country at 71.7% and a high poverty rate of 22.9%. Yet surprisingly, the crime rate in the metropolitan area was lower than the country as a whole. There were 326.7 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in the Yakima area, compared to 386.3 violent crimes across the United States. However, there were 6.5 cases of murder and negligent manslaughter and more than 4,200 incidents of property crime per 100,000 residents in 2011, both well in excess of national rates. The city also had the 10th highest crime rate for cities with populations of less than 100,000 people.

2. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Tex.

  • Pct. feel safe at night: 50.0%
  • Violent crime rate: 295.4 per 100,000 people (119th lowest)
  • Poverty rate: 37.7% (the highest)
  • Pct. who always had money for food: 70.7% (2nd lowest)
  • Population: 741,152

In 2011, there were 295.4 violent crimes per 100,000 residents of the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area, lower than the 386.3 across the United States. Residents feel so unsafe in part because it is considered one of the most dangerous border areas in the country. McAllen lies across the border from Reynosa, Mexico, which has become a battleground for drug cartels. It is also the poorest metropolitan area in the country, with a median income in 2011 of only $31,077. Nearly 38% of residents live below the poverty line, the highest rate in the nation.

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1. Stockton, Calif.

  • Pct. feel safe at night: 48.9%
  • Violent crime rate: 821.2 per 100,000 people (3rd highest)
  • Poverty rate: 18.1% (121st highest)
  • Pct. who always had money for food: 79.3% (40th lowest)
  • Population: 674,860

Residents of Stockton felt more unsafe than residents of any other metropolitan area. Inhabitants were not optimistic about the future of the city, either. Less than 35% felt Stockton was getting better, the lowest percentage of any metro area. In 2011, there were 540 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, close to double the national rate and the ninth highest rate among metropolitan areas. The area had 12.5 cases of murder and negligent manslaughter per 100,000 people that year, the fifth highest rate in the nation. Stockton also had an unemployment rate of 14.1%, among the highest in the country.

 To see the other 5 cities where Americans don’t feel safe, visit 24/7 Wall St.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.