ATLANTA — The homicide rate across the country rose 30 percent from 2019 to 2020, marking the highest increase in modern history, according to CDC findings released Wednesday.
Crime statistics have indicated the rise, but the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics group examined public health data, including death certificates, to confirm the increase. The previous largest increase in the U.S. homicide rate was a 20 percent rise recorded from 2000 to 2001 because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the CDC.
“A 30 percent increase is outstanding, really,” Dr. Robert Anderson, NCHS chief of mortality statistics, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Places that haven’t traditionally had high homicides rates have had increases.”
The CDC’s data was released a week after FBI findings that showed the number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses across the country increased 29.4 percent in 2020.
“While their numbers are a little smaller than ours, their data tends to track ours very closely in terms of trends,” Anderson said. “When we saw the numbers we expected that ours would show the same thing.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has pointed to what she calls a “COVID crime wave” to explain the deadly surge. Others, including law enforcement agencies, agree though it’s hard to pinpoint the exact causes.
“There are a lot of potential reasons why this is happening that are related to the pandemic,” Anderson said.
“Hungry people do desperate things,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said. “And we know that food insecurity is a major issue right now.”
Alexis Stevens, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution