(The Hill) – The number of homicides and gun assaults in major U.S. cities ticked downward in the first half of 2022, according to new data.

A midyear report released Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) found a drop in murder rates by 2% and gun assaults by 6%. Drug-related offenses also dropped by 7%. 

But despite the slight dip in murder rates, the CCJ reports, the U.S. is still seeing 39% higher rates in 2022 than it did in the first half of 2019. 

Murder rates jumped 30% between 2019 and 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, marking the largest single-year increase on U.S. record.

Data shows that violent crime has been on the rise throughout the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. The 2% decrease this year equates to 54 fewer homicides, according to the CCJ.

“It is heartening to see the homicide numbers fall, even slightly, but American cities continue to lose too many of their residents to bloodshed,” said study co-author Richard Rosenfeld, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, in a press release issued Thursday. “As we’ve said before, these elevated levels of violence require an urgent response from elected leaders. We must put evidence-backed strategies in place now to make communities safer.”  

The researchers noted the 6% decrease in gun assaults “should be viewed with caution,” as the number was based on data collected from just 12 cities. 

Robberies, on the other hand, rose 19% after dropping during the pandemic. Residential burglaries jumped 6%, and larcenies increased by 20%.

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