WASHINGTON — Hate crimes surged nearly 12 percent between 2020 and 2021, according to updated statistics released by the F.B.I. on Monday, but the data is far from complete and the actual numbers are likely to be higher, experts tracking the rise in bias-fueled violence said.
The new numbers painted a picture of a nation both confronting an alarming yearslong rise in crimes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability and sexual orientation, and struggling to assess the full toll.
The bureau had released hate crime statistics in December, but had announced it could not compile accurate data because scores of police departments across the country, including in New York City and most cities in California, had not submitted information to a new, enhanced national reporting system.
The new numbers, supplemented by reporting from state and local data, showed a rise in hate crimes to 9,065 in 2021 from 8,120 in 2020. The data is a much more accurate representation of overall trends than the numbers in the December report, senior Justice Department officials said.
Most hate crimes, 8,327, were offenses committed against people — 55 percent were assaults, with 18 murders and 19 rapes reported, while 43 percent were listed under the heading “intimidation.” The remainder were acts of vandalism or destruction of property.
“Hate crimes and the devastation they cause communities have no place in this country,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who has worked on improving reporting of hate crimes. The department, she added, “is committed to using every tool and resource at our disposal to combat bias-motivated violence in all its forms.”
Ms. Gupta had pressed for a better accounting of hate crimes after the release of the report in December, which actually showed a slight decline in hate crimes between 2020 and 2021. On Monday, she promised to help local departments that have struggled to adjust to the enhanced reporting requirements of the new National Incident-Based Reporting System, which came online in 2021.
“We will not stop here,” she said in a statement.
A majority of hate crimes reported, 64 percent, were prompted by prejudice based on the victim’s race or ethnicity. Attacks motivated by a person’s sexual orientation accounted for 16 percent of crimes reported, and hate crimes spurred by religion accounted for 14 percent of the total, the F.B.I. reported.
But the bureau’s numbers, sobering as they may seem, are probably underestimates, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, which independently monitors hate crimes in cities across the country.
“We’re in a new era of multiyear elevated and record-breaking historic levels,” Mr. Levin said.
Mr. Levin’s group, pulling together data from 20 American cities, has produced estimates for 2022. It found that the most frequent targets for attack were Black people, who accounted for 21 percent of reported incidents; Jews, at 16 percent; and gay men, at 12 percent. Attacks against Asians, whites and Latinos each represented about 8 percent of the total.