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October 27, 2009 - Steve Murch
Forbes.com has its list of the safest cities in America.Two Midwest cities – Minneapolis and Milwaukee – two Pacific Northwest cities – Seattle and Portland – and Boston are the five safest cities among the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the country. However, one of the results may shock you.
To determine our list of America's safest cities, we looked at the country's 40 largest metropolitan statistical areas across four categories of danger. We considered 2008 workplace death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2008 traffic death rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and natural disaster risk, using rankings from green living site SustainLane.com. It devised its rankings by collecting historical data on hurricanes, major flooding, catastrophic hail, tornado super-outbreaks, and earthquakes from government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Geological Survey, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and private outfit Risk Management Solutions. We also looked at violent crime rates from the FBI's 2008 uniform crime report. The violent crime category is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. In cases where the FBI report included incomplete data on a given metro area, we used estimates from Sperling's BestPlaces.
Then they ranked each city 1 through 40. Not surprisingly, Detroit ranked 40 in violent crime. However, Detroit ranked so well – at least comparatively speaking – that it finished as the 12th safest city in the country.
What propelled Detroit so high?
For starters, it is the forth safest city in terms of workplace fatality rate and eighth when it comes to natural disaster risk. Forbes does admit that Detroit's high unemployment might have been a factor. It's hard to die on the job when you don't have a job to go to. Natural disaster is always pretty easy to figure. It's also a bit obvious that they didn't weight the categories because it would seem more likely that violent crimes would be more prevalent than workplace violence, for example.
Miami was No. 40 in terms of natural disaster risk and that's easy to figure with hurricanes. Indianapolis was No. 40 in workplace fatality rate, and Orlando No. 40 in traffic death rate. You have to wonder how many people involved in the traffic death rate are from Orlando, since it is where Walt Disney World is.
New York, with its nearly 20 million people rated as the eighth safest city in the country. Other notables include Chicago (No. 15), Los Angeles (No. 19) and Washington, D.C. (No. 20). The least safe city among the 40 most populated cities is Miami. In addition to its No. 40 ranking for natural disasters, it ranks No. 35 in violent crimes, No. 34 in workplace fatality rate, and No. 35 in traffic death rates.
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