Just under half (49%) of Americans believe the problem of crime in the United States is very or extremely serious -- a 10-percentage-point drop from last year's 59% and the first time the number has been below 50% since 2005.
Government statistics have shown a general decline in crime rates nationally since the 1990s, but Americans have been loath to accept the concept that crime is decreasing.
The FBI's annual reports show a drop in the national violent crime rate in 15 of the 20 years from 1998-2017, with the overall rate falling from 568 crimes per 100,000 persons in 1998 to 383 crimes per 100,000 last year. Over the same time span, Gallup asked Americans in every year but one (1999) if crime was increasing or decreasing nationally, and in all but two years (2000 and 2001) a majority said it was increasing. Only once, in 2001, did a higher percentage say crime was decreasing (43%) rather than increasing (41%).