A total of three Texas cities ranked in the top twenty-five cities that experienced a rise in murder rates during the pandemic, according to a new WalletHub study.
“Generally, it could be one or a combination of things such as unemployment and under-employment causing people to commit more crimes,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Social unrest, political changes, and the uncertainty caused by the pandemic could be other factors.”
The 2022 WalletHub Cities With The Highest Homicide Rates During COVID study found that Garland outranked Austin and Dallas at No. 19, 20, and 23, respectively.
“Economic recovery and the drop in anxiety caused by the pandemic should determine a decrease in homicide rates,” Gonzalez told The Dallas Express. “Unemployment rates going down, and lower financial stress could also potentially lower the rate of homicides.”
Financial stress is lowered when people are able to go back to their jobs and their normal lives, according to Gonzalez.
“This can be done through high vaccination rates and maintaining virus transmission rates under control,” she said.
The murder rate rose by 39.97 in Garland compared to 38.90 in Austin and 37.07 in Dallas, according to the data.
“Dallas, Austin, and Garland authorities should find ways to increase the safety of their residents,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “Some ways authorities can increase the safety of their residents include having more police officers patrol the streets, creating neighborhood watch programs, and even improving lighting on streets where this is necessary.”
Nationwide, WalletHub found that homicide rates have risen by an average of 37% in fifty of the most populated U.S. cities between Q4 2019 and Q4 2021 and are still rising.
“There are twenty Blue or Democratic cities and five Red or Republican cities among the bottom twenty-five,” Gonzalez said.
Among North Texas cities alone, Fort Worth and Arlington ranked in the bottom half of the list of fifty at number 26 and number 45, respectively, meaning they saw a lower rise in homicide rates, according to the data.
Fort Worth ranked in the bottom half because it had an increase of only 0.69 homicide cases per capita in Q4 2021 compared to Q4 2020, and an increase of just 0.91 homicide cases per capita compared to Q4 2019. Arlington ranked 45th because it had a drop of 0.25 homicide cases per capita in Q4 2021 compared to Q4 2019, and no change compared to Q4 2020.
“A low increase or a drop in homicide rates is an indication that the Arlington and Fort Worth communities and their authorities are handling the pandemic very well,” Gonzalez said. “The residents of these two cities seem to be less impacted by the financial stress and everything else the pandemic has entailed.”
Memphis, Tennessee, is the city with the highest rise in homicides during the pandemic at 97.28 compared to Riverside, California, which had the lowest rise at 8.87.
“Riverside actually registered a drop in the number of homicides in Q4 2021 by 2.45 per capita compared to Q4 2020, and by 1.53 per capita compared to Q4 2019,” Gonzalez added.