U.S. violent crime decreased slightly last year, while the number of murders edged higher after soaring the previous year, according to a new FBI report released Wednesday.
The mixed data come as violent crime remains a concern for many Americans and has emerged as a prominent campaign issue ahead of the midterm U.S. congressional elections next month.
But the FBI cautioned against putting too much weight on the data, noting gaps in its estimates due to nonreporting by a large number of police departments.
“It is important to note that these estimated trends are not considered statistically significant,” the FBI said in a statement. “The nonsignificant nature of the observed trends is why, despite these described changes, the overall message is that crime remained consistent.”
Overall, there were a total of 1,326,600 violent crime incidents last year, a decrease of 1% from 1,313,200 in 2020, the FBI said.
The number of murders increased to 22,900 in 2021 from 22,000, an increase of 4.3%, after surging by 5.6% in 2020.
Contributing to the overall decline in violent crime was a sharp decrease in robberies, which dropped by 9%, the FBI said.
The figures were based on data the FBI received from 12,000 out of 19,000 law enforcement agencies operating in the country.
Last year, the FBI rolled out a new data collection system called the National Incident Based Reporting System. But many police departments have yet to switch to the new system, leaving large gaps in the bureau’s data collection.
As a result, the data had large margins of error, making them statistically insignificant.