The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2008 Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) data released this week finds the Gopher State’s overall crime rate falling to its lowest level since 1969.

The new data – estimated totals based on the reporting of over 98 percent of law enforcement agencies across the state – finds index crime declining across the board in Minnesota from 2007, with a 6.1 percent yearly decrease in property crime driving the nearly 40-year low.

Minnesota’s index crime rate of 3,113.4 incidents per 100,000 residents is the lowest level since 1969 (3,076.6), and marks a drop of 11.9 percent since Governor Tim Pawlenty took office in 2003 – a slightly bigger decrease in crime than experienced by the nation as a whole during that span (-11.1 percent).

The index crime rate combines seven offenses – four violent crimes (homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery) and three property crimes (burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft). (Note: The use of compiling crimes into an ‘index’ has gone in and out of vogue – the danger being that some property crimes (as noted below) occur at a much greater frequency they tend can obscure the impact of violent crime on a state or community. What is therefore important is to compare trend data that uses the same measures).

Overall, Minnesota’s 2008 violent crime rate of 262.8 incidents per 100,000 residents is at its lowest level in 23 years, when the rate was 256.4 in 1985. At its peak in 1994, the violent crime rate hit 359.0 incidents per 100,000 residents in the Gopher State.

Violent crime is down in Minnesota across the board:

· Minnesota’s homicide rate of 2.1 incidents per 100,000 residents is at its lowest level since 1985 (2.1), falling 4.5 percent from 2007.
· The rate of forcible rape of 34.6 is at the lowest level since 1990 (34.0), dropping 3.3 percent from a year ago.
· The robbery rate of 80.0 is down 12.9 percent from 2007 and marks a 4-year low.
· Likewise, the aggravated assault rate of 146.1 is at a 4-year low, and down 7.9 percent from 2007.

Property crimes, particularly theft and burglaries, are much more prevalent in society than violent crimes, and constitute over 90 percent of all index crimes in Minnesota.

The 2008 property crime rate in Minnesota of 2,850.6 incidents per 100,000 residents is its lowest level since 1968 (2,823.1). Property crime is down 12.7 percent under the Pawlenty administration, a slightly bigger improvement than the nation overall since 2002 (-11.5 percent).

· The burglary rate of 505.9 incidents per 100,000 residents in Minnesota is at its lowest level since 1963 (404.6), dropping 9.3 percent from 2007.
· The larceny-theft rate of 2,151.6 is at its lowest level since 1973 (2,004.7), decreasing 3.3 percent from 2007.
· The motor vehicle theft rate of 193.1 is at its lowest level since 1964 (181.3), falling an astounding 19.9 percent in just one year.

Minnesota’s index crime rates are lower than the nation as a whole across all categories, with the exception of forcible rape, which is 18.8 percent higher in Minnesota (34.6) than the nation overall (29.3).

While Minnesota is experiencing its lowest crime rate since the moon landing, the same is not the case for all of its Upper Midwestern neighbors:

· North Dakota’s crime rate is up 1.5 percent from 2007 to 2,060.9 incidents per 100,000 residents.
· South Dakota’s crime rate is up 1.4 percent from 2007 to 1,847.0.
· Wisconsin’s crime rate of 3,030.4 is only at its lowest rate since 2005.
· Iowa’s crime rate of 2,704.7 is its lowest since 1972.

South Dakota and North Dakota also experienced increases in violent crime from 2007 to 2008, of 19.0 and 16.9 percent respectively. The violent crime rates of Iowa and Wisconsin fell to only 2 and 3-year lows respectively.

While some analysts expect the crime rate to eventually increase as a result of the economic stress that has been placed on the American people during the last few years, this lag is not yet evident – in Minnesota or in the United States generally, where violent crime was down 2.7 percent from 2007 and property crimes were down 1.6 percent. Smart Politics has been tracking the apparent inverse relationship between unemployment and the crime rate locally in Minneapolis during the past year.

The low crime rate in Minnesota is particularly striking when compared to the last time unemployment was this high in the Gopher State. Minnesota’s average unemployment rate for 2008 was 5.5 percent; and the last time unemployment reached this average yearly high was 1986. (Unemployment is, of course, much higher in 2009, but crime statistics won’t be available for this year until 2010).

By comparison, crime was 28.6 percent less in the Gopher State in 2008 than in 1986, with violent crimes down 7.7 percent and property crimes 30.1 percent lower than 22 years prior. Burglaries are occurring at approximately half the rate they did in 1986 with motor vehicle thefts at two-thirds the rate.

Comparative Crime Rates in Minnesota: 1986 vs. 2008

Crime
1986
2008
Difference
Index
4,362.2
3,113.4
-28.6
Violent crimes
284.6
262.8
-7.7
Murder
2.5
2.1
-16.0
Forcible rape
31.8
34.6
8.8
Robbery
102.0
80.0
-21.6
Aggravated assault
148.3
146.1
-1.5
Property crimes
4,077.6
2,850.6
-30.1
Burglary
1,004.2
505.9
-49.6
Larceny-theft
2,785.3
2,151.6
-22.8
Vehicle theft
288.1
193.1
-33.0

Uniform Crime Reports data compiled by Smart Politics.

One key difference between 1986 and 2008, however, is that 1986 was the third year into the jobs recovery in the Gopher State, while 2008 found unemployment and the deterioration of the state’s economy on the rise.

Overall, at 262.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents Minnesota had the 13th lowest violent crime rate in the U.S., behind Maine (117.5), Vermont (135.9), New Hampshire (157.2), North Dakota (166.5), South Dakota (201.4), Utah (221.8), Idaho (228.6), Wyoming (232.0), Rhode Island (249.4), Virginia (255.9), Oregon (257.2), and Montana (258.1).

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3 Comments

  1. being goode on September 15, 2009 at 6:40 am

    I am almost positive that those damn socialist loving DFLer’s had something to do with this… No… seriously now…

    “Conceal and Carry” that’s it. that why its “all good” Heavily armed patrols of vigilante citizen’s… No… that can’t be it…. Hmmmmm

    Outstanding efforts from Mpls and St. Paul law enforcement with regards to the levels of staffing… Now where the heck did Mpls and St. Paul find the kind of financial”stimulus” to hire those police officers? Especially in these times of tight budgets?

    Kinda puts the kibosh on the relationship between bad economy and high crime rate…..



  2. GRD on September 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    When crime rates are rising, politicians and those responsible for enforcement seem to claim that the increases are the result of increased attention to crime and the reporting thereof; that the increases are not real, just reported more frequently.

    How do we know now then that the reverse is not the case? In other words, maybe crime itself has not decreased, and it is enforcement and reporting that have decreased instead. I’m not just poking. I honestly want to know what to believe and on what basis.



  3. Lammy Junior on September 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Thats what politicians do. Taking credits and “delegating” responsibilities..