New York City's murder rate is still dropping.

The 286 murders for the first six months of this year equals a 24.7 percent drop from the same period a year ago, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Wednesday. It was also the fewest murders since 1966, when there were 275 midway through the year.The murder rate has now dropped 69.3 percent since 1993, when the annual total of murders had reached about 2,000.

"This was a city that didn't believe it could do very much about crime and now it has reduced crime more than any other city in America," Giuliani said.

Last year, there were 767 murders, a 22 percent drop from 1996 and the fewest in 30 years.

Giuliani credited a growing economy in part, saying that the city has not experienced such strong job growth since 1951. He also credited a more aggressive police department that has taken streets back from drug dealers.