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Louisiana has fifth-highest crime rate, third highest poverty rate in nation, studies show

BATON ROUGE—Louisiana had the fifth-highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2011, according to the FBI’s latest statistics, which link the rate with the state’s poverty rate, third-highest in the U.S.

Nationally, violent crimes in the U.S. fell for the fifth straight year. The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 population dropped from 403.6 per 100,000 in 2010 to 386.3 last year.

Louisiana’s crime rate in 2011 was 555.3. The state’s property crime rate per 100,000 was 3,688.5, third highest in the nation.

Louisiana ranked high among all states for a host of crimes, the report said. It had the highest murder rate in the U.S. (11.2 per 100,000), the fifth-highest rate of aggravated assault (401.9), sixth-highest in burglary, second-highest in larceny and the highest rate of incarceration in the nation.

As of July 2012, New Orleans had the highest murder rate per capita of all major U.S. cities.

Louisiana had 204 percent of its citizens living below the poverty line in 2011, third-highest in the nation and the 17.5 percent with less than a high school education was fourth-highest in the U.S., the report indicated.

The 10 states with the highest crime rates in 2011 were the same states on the 2010 list but Tennessee has the highest violent crime rate at 608.2 per 100,000, up from third in 2010. Nevada, the state with the highest violent crime rate in 2010, improved to fifth-highest.

Maine had the lowest violent crime rate in the country at 123.2 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

Of the four types of violent crime, which includes murder (including manslaughter), rape, aggravated assault and robbery, aggravated assault is by far the most common, the report says. Of the 1.2 million cases of violent crime in 2011, more than 750,000 were cases of aggravated assault.

The rankings of states with the highest violent crime, from worst to 10th worst are:

  • Tennessee (608.2);
  • Alaska (606.5);
  • South Carolina (571.9);
  • New Mexico (567.5);
  • Nevada (562.1);
  • Delaware (559.5);
  • Louisiana (555.3);
  • Florida (515.3);
  • Maryland (494.1);
  • Arkansas (480.9)

Many of the states which have the highest rates of violent crime suffer from poverty and low educational attainment. Five, including Louisiana, were among the lowest scores in both measures.

Since the late 1970s, income inequality (identified as the Gini coefficient) in the U.S. has grown by nearly 20 percent. The Gini coefficient is the ratio between zero and one that reflects perfect equality at zero. That ratio increases with increased disparity between wealth and extreme poverty.

Wyoming had the most favorable Gini coefficient (0.408), meaning that state had the least disparity between high and low income.

Louisiana had the third highest Gini coefficient (0.4836) behind New York and Connecticut.

New York and Connecticut are home to the largest finance centers in the country and investment bankers and hedge fund managers in those states earn many times the income of average middle-class workers, causing an exaggeration of the Gini coefficient.

In Louisiana and Texas (eighth-worst), where the oil and gas industry has created a small group of billionaires and with some of the largest percentages of populations living below the poverty line, the Gini coefficient is adversely impacted as well.

The percentage of households living below the poverty line in Louisiana increased from 18.7 percent in 2010 to 20.4 percent last year and the households earning less than $10,000 annually increased from 6.2 percent, sixth highest in the nation, to 7.7 percent in 2011, second-highest in the country.

This occurred even as the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.2 percent in 2010 to 5.6 percent last year, an indication that job growth was primarily at the lower-end of the wage spectrum.

East Carroll Parish had the highest income inequality of all counties (parishes) in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Louisiana’s median household income of $41,734 was the seventh-lowest in the U.S. and the 3.5 percent of households earning over $200,000 was 17th lowest.

The states with the 10 highest Gini coefficients, beginning with the highest, are:

  • New York (0.5033);
  • Connecticut (0.4859);
  • Louisiana (0.4836);
  • New Mexico (0.4821);
  • California (0.4812);
  • Florida (0.4811);
  • Massachusetts (0.4771);
  • Texas (0.4771);
  • Georgia (0.4770);
  • Tennessee (0.4756)

 

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