Fact-Checking Politifact: Is Biden Correct that the violent crime rate is near a 50-year low?

Other types of crime statistics, including the National Crime Victimization Survey, show current levels of violent crime far lower than their peaks in the early 1990s. . . .

Louis Jacobson, “Joe Biden is correct that violent crime is near a 50-year low,” Politifact, May 28, 2024.

.Here is the email we sent to Louis Jacobson, but he never responded to our point that the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey data shows a 43 percent increase from the rate in 2020. So, how exactly is the current rate near a 50-year low? How does comparing it to only the crime rate 50 years ago doesn’t exactly justify Biden’s claim.


Dear Louis:


I was reading your write up on Biden’s claim that “Violent crime is near a record 50-year low.” With regard to the NCVS, I don’t think that is true. The NCVS estimate of the violent crime rates in 2020 and 2021 were 16.4 and 16.5 respectively. The rate in 2022 was 23.5, thus 43.3% and 42.4% higher than the rates in those years. It seems to me that is a much higher rate in 2022 than the low rates immediately before it. There are also very low rates around 2008 and 2009. Even if you compare the average pre-COVID rate for the five years from 2015 to 2019, the rate in 2022 was still 14% higher, which also seems substantial and helps give a reason why people think violent crime has increased. 


By the way, there were similar changes in the NCVS measure of property crime. For whatever it is worth and not the main focus of my email, I also think that looking at murders, which doesn’t have the reporting problems of other crimes, is misleading. As the number of police officers have fallen, what available resources have been moved from property and less serious violent crimes to deal primarily with murder.

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