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Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images

The murder rate across 20 major U.S. cities at the end of June was 37% higher on average than in late May, the New York Times reports, citing a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The big picture: Massive unemployment, backlogs in the courts and limited access to social services caused by COVID-19 lockdowns contributed to the spike in violence.

  • Crime overall is down in many cities, "except murder, aggravated assault and in some places, car theft," the Times notes.

By the numbers: Homicide and violent crime are up in several cities across the country.

  • Kansas City has reported 122 homicides for the year as of Tuesday, per the city's police department. Last year, the city reported 148 homicides for the entire year.
  • Chicago's police department has recorded at least 450 murders so far this year, compared to 291 for all of 2019.
  • New York City saw a 130% increase in shooting incidents from June 1 to June 30, per the NYPD.
  • In Detroit, 273 homicides were committed last year, per the police department. At least 450 homicides have been logged this year, per the city's police department data.
  • Milwaukee has seen a 24% year-to-date increase in homicides from this time last year.

What they're saying: “I’m sure there will be academic studies for years to come as to what caused the spike of 2020,” Tim Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, told the Times. “I’m sure the lockdown didn’t help. When you already have a stressed economic situation and you put a lot of folks out of work, and a lot of teenagers out of school, it’s a volatile situation.”

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Oct 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

Americans are moving again

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For decades, the share of Americans moving to new cities has been falling. The pandemic-induced rise of telework is turning that trend around.

Why it matters: This dispersion of people from big metros to smaller ones and from the coasts to the middle of the country could be a boon for dozens of left-behind cities across the U.S.

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.