Fear of Rampant Crime Is Derailing New York City’s Recovery

Incidents of violent crime remain at historic lows in New York City. But people’s views on guns and crime are often more influenced by what they see and hear, rather than by hard numbers. While homicide is the most high-profile type of crime, larceny, burglary and assault show similar trends.

A rash of high-profile incidents in subway stations and tourist hubs—and an outspoken new mayor who’s made crime-fighting his signature issue—has intensified scrutiny on public safety. A generation of younger New Yorkers are seeing a sustained rise in crime, instead of a decline, for the first time in their lifetimes.

To that end, three quarters of New Yorkers said crime was a “very serious” problem in a February Quinnipiac University poll. That’s the highest number since the question was first asked in 1999, when the murder rate per capita was 50% higher. Back then, only 35% of respondents ranked violence as a major concern.

It’s not just New York. Crime fell in cities around the world in the early weeks of Covid-19 shutdowns. But then, violence began ticking up in urban centers as residents dealt with the economic and health fallout from the pandemic

Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and other US cities saw murder rates climb to the highest point in over a decade, driven by gun violence. In Chicago, where homicides rose to their highest level last year since 1995, billionaire Ken Griffin cited safety fears in his decision to relocate his hedge fund firm to Miami. Meanwhile, public safety and guns have already featured prominently in campaign ads in Georgia, Ohio, Florida and other battleground states ahead of the November midterm elections.


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