Monday, August 23, 2010

Stockton, CA Homicide Rate Almost as High as Washington, DC's

The recession has done little to stop the declining homicide rate in Washington, DC. In 1991, the city recorded 479 homicides, a rate of over 80 per 100,000. This year it's recorded 75, is on pace for about 115, a rate of just under 20 per 100,000. The city's murder rate is very likely to come in at a 47 year low for all of 2010.

But on the other side of the country, where there are few Federal jobs to prop up the economy, Stockton, CA is seeing a surge in homicides, reporting 33 this year, nearly double the total of last year. With 290,000 people, Stockton's year-to-date homicide rate of 11.5 per 100,000 is almost as high as the 12.5 per 100,000 in the city formerly known as the nation's murder capital.

Stockton was crushed by the housing bust, and now relies on the usual local government/hospital jobs seen in other cities. Interestingly, larger, out-of-state, cities that were also hurt badly by the housing crash, notably Phoenix, are still seeing declines in violent crime. Meanwhile, Fresno also saw a large increase in homicides earlier this year. While I can't say exactly why Stockton's crime is so bad, Phoenix, Reno, and Las Vegas don't have to deal with the high tax burdens and huge pension liabilities Stockton shares with the rest of California. And without the tech or movie industries to prop it up, Stockton and Fresno don't have the non-health, non-government employment base of San Francisco or LA. Essentially, working class Central Valley residents are being forced to subsidize pensions for public workers who live in LA and San Francisco. That's no way to build a foundation for an economic recovery.

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